Derived from apricot pits, which contain cyanide, Laetrile was considered too toxic for human use by its discoverer, a Californian, Ernst Krebs, Sr., M.D. But years later, after his son, Ernst Krebs, Jr., claimed to have “purified” Laetrile, both father and son advocated it as an effective treatment for cancer. The Krebses patented their promising product as “Laetrile”—an acronym derived from the chemical name Laevo-mandelonitrile, the cyanide-containing substance they extracted from the crushed kernels of apricot pits.
The next step was to explain how Laetrile worked. With a little imagination, the younger Krebs came up with a “magic bullet” theory. Cancer cells, he claimed, contain an abundant amount of an enzyme that releases cyanide from Laetrile. The cyanide, in turn, kills off the tumor cells. Normal cells are low in that enzyme, the Krebs theory went, but rich in another enzyme that detoxifies the cyanide. So normal cells live while cancer cells die.
This theory was proved to be wrong. The supposedly abundant “releasing” enzyme is scarcer in cancer cells than in normal ones, and the “protective” enzyme is found in equal amounts in both kinds of cells. Moreover, cyanide does not have bullet-like precision. Because cyanide diffuses rapidly across intercellular barriers, any destructive effects would spread to both cancerous and noncancerous cells.
Its promoters then took a different course. Laetrile, the drug, was suddenly transformed in 1970 into Laetrile, the vitamin. Cancer, according to the later theory, was a vitamin-deficiency disease. Laetrile, it went on, was “vitamin B-17,” the “missing vitamin” needed to prevent and treat cancer.
Besides daily injections or oral doses of Laetrile, the “total holistic metabolic nutritional” regimen includes massive doses of vitamin C and other vitamins, chelated mineral supplements, even coffee enemas. The Laetrile-centered regimen emphasizes a strictly vegetarian diet, free of all animal protein. Often another nonvitamin B-15 or “pangamic acid,” is prescribed (B-15 is also the creation of the same Ernst Krebs, Jr., who christened Laetrile “B-17”).
Laetrile is one of the most tested substances ever put forward as a remedy for cancer. In 1953, the Cancer Commission of the California Medical Association investigated Laetrile and found it ineffective. As part of that study, the commission discovered that all but one of forty-four patients treated with Laetrile still had an active form of cancer or were dead.
The most comprehensive series of animal tests were done at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City. From 1972 to 1976 approximately thirty-seven experiments were conducted using Laetrile on mouse and rat tumors. Laetrile neither prolonged life, nor reduced tumor size, nor checked the spread of cancer.
Medical records submitted by Laetrile proponents have never substantiated the claims made. Many cancer patients who believe they had been cured by Laetrile find out later that they still have the disease. Others never had cancer to begin with. Some cancer patients have temporary remissions—periods when symptoms lessen; if Laetrile use coincides with such a remission, the patient may think Laetrile was the cause.
The FDA’s pharmacological analysis, in 1977 indicated that Laetrile smuggled or imported from Mexico in the form of oral doses and vials of injectable material under the names of “Laetrile” and “amygdalin” were potentially lethal sources of cyanide. Laboratory tests hinted that amygdalin might even be cancer-causing in its own right.
Jerry P. Lewis, M.D., chief on onncology and hematology at the University of California School of Medicine in Davis, reported late in 1977 the case of a seventeen-year-old in Los Angeles who swallowed approximately 10 1/2 grams (one-third of an ounce) of injectable Laetrile. The young woman had a convulsion ten minutes later, and died without recovering consciousness. In mid-1977, a ten-month-old girl died in an upstate New York hospital a few days after gulping down several Laetrile-tablets. Beyond these documented deaths, the FDA toxologists suggest that many cancer patients whose death after long-term, high-dose Laetrile medication was attributed to their malignancy actually succumbed to slow cyanide poisoning from Laetrile.
In addition to being deceived, the patients or their families have to pay dearly for the deception.
Laetrile therapy does not come cheap. The cost of 6 month’s treatment at a Mexican clinic has been estimated at between $1,500 and $2,000. Laetrile smuggled into the United States is priced as high as $50 for a half-ounce vial for injection, compared with a $9 price tag in Tijuana. Tablets sell for nearly two dollars in this country, but cost only about three cents to manufacture.
Cancer is the end point of a lifetime of unhealthful living and the accumulated toxins that results from such a lifestyle. Adding more poisons to our body as “medicines” will not produce health.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Herbal “Cures”
- 3. Acupuncture
- 4. Megavitamins
- 5. Reflexology (Zone Therapy)
- 6. Relaxation Therapy
- 7. Ultrasound Therapy
- 8. Radiation Therapy
- 9. Laetrile
- 10. Spurious Products Sold Through The Mail
- 11. High-Fiber Diets
- 12. Fructose Diet Cure
- 13. Bland Diet For Peptic Ulcer Patients
- 14. DMSO
- 15. Mineral Water Therapy
- 16. Bee Products
- 17. Macrobiotic Diet Cure
- 18. Questions & Answers