Search for “Vitamin B17” in Google and you will find an abundance of articles and websites naming the Vitamin B17 cover-up as the greatest conspiracy in the history of humankind. Supposedly, governments around the world have been hiding Vitamin B17’s amazing ability to cure cancer from us because they are in cahoots with pharmaceutical companies who make billions every year from cancer drugs.
But is it true? What is Vitamin B17? And can it really cure cancer?
What is Vitamin B17?
Vitamin B17 is one name for laetrile, a partly synthetic (man-made) form of the natural substance amygdalin. Amygdalin is a plant substance found in raw nuts and the pips of many fruits, particularly apricot pips or kernels. It is also found in plants like lima beans, clover and sorghum.
Other names for Vitamin B17 that you might have heard used include:
- mandelonitrile beta D gentiobioside
- mandelonitrile beta glucuronide
The name “Vitamin B17” is misleading as it is not actually a vitamin and taking it can have serious side-effects including fever, liver damage and death.
Why do people think Vitamin B17 can cure cancer?
In 1973, G. Edward Griffin, an American far-right conspiracy theorist, published World Without Cancer – The Story of Vitamin B17. In his book, Griffin asserts that cancer is a metabolic disease like a vitamin deficiency facilitated by the insufficient consumption of amygdalin (aka laetrile or Vitamin B17). It should be noted that Griffin also later asserted that HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) doesn’t exist and that AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) was caused by antiretroviral medications rather than the HIV virus – an assertion that has been scientifically disproved dozens of times.
As a result of Griffin’s book, Vitamin B17 was promoted as an anti-cancer agent throughout the 1970s and has been sold as a cancer remedy ever since, either on its own or as part of a programme that includes a particular diet, vitamin supplements and pancreatic enzymes.
Is there any evidence to show Vitamin B17 can cure cancer?
There is no scientific evidence to show that Vitamin B17 can treat cancer or any other illness, or that cancer is a metabolic deficiency. Despite this, Vitamin B17 is still promoted as an alternative cancer treatment, meaning that people use it instead of conventional cancer treatments such as cancer drugs or radiotherapy.
A US website estimated that laetrile injections for 21 days to start the treatment cost about $336. Thereafter, it costs about $160 a month for laetrile tablets.
Many people take Vitamin B17 because they believe it is a detoxifying agent and can improve their health, energy levels and well-being, thereby helping them to live longer. However, this belief is again not supported by any scientific evidence.
What does taking Vitamin B17 involve? Are there any side-effects?
Vitamin B17 can be taken as injections (intravenously), tablets, skin lotions, or as a liquid injected into the back passage (rectum). Taking Vitamin B17 in tablet form has more side-effects than having it injected. This is because our digestive bacteria and enzymes in the food we eat break down the Vitamin B17, releasing cyanide (a poison).
Because Vitamin B17 contains cyanide, which is poisonous, the side-effects are the same as they would be if you had been poisoned. These include:
- liver damage
- drooping eyelids
- a lack of oxygen to the body tissues
- a drop in blood pressure
- nerve damage, causing loss of balance and difficulty walking
- confusion, coma and eventually death
It is estimated that eating 50g of Vitamin B17, or roughly 50 to 60 apricot kernels, is enough to kill you. For people with existing damage to their livers, taking Vitamin B17 as a supplement can accelerate the rate at which the liver deteriorates.
So, should I be taking Vitamin B17?
Cancer Research UK writes:
“It is understandable that you might want to try anything if you think it might help treat or cure your cancer. Only you can decide whether or not to use an alternative cancer therapy such as laetrile (Vitamin B17).
“But stopping cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy for an unproven treatment could be very harmful to your health. We do not recommend that you replace your conventional cancer treatment with any type of alternative cancer therapy.
“Many websites promote laetrile (Vitamin B17) as a cure for cancer. But no reputable scientific cancer organisations support any of these claims. Our advice is to be very cautious about believing this type of information or paying for any alternative cancer therapy over the internet.”
The Mayo Clinic has also issued strong warnings about cancer scams, reminding users that all drugs must go through rigorous testing and be FDA-approved before being touted as “cures” for any illness. Vitamin B17 as a “cure” for cancer is neither FDA-approved nor scientifically validated. In fact, there is significant evidence regarding the negative side-effects of taking Vitamin B17 and any “evidence” concerning its curative abilities is purely anecdotal.
The sale of laetrile (Vitamin B17) is banned in the European Union because there is no evidence that it works, and because of its serious side effects. It is also banned in the USA by the Food and Drugs Agency (FDA).
For more information, we recommend consulting WebMD’s patient information page on laetrile / amygdalin (Vitamin B17). Feel free to send your questions directly to us at [email protected], or register an account to leave your comments below.