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Vitamin B17, Laetrile, Amygdalin: Cancer Cure or Scam?
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Vitamin B17, Laetrile, Amygdalin: Cancer Cure or Scam?

Vitamin is not a vitamin B17 is not a vitamin and it doesn't cure cancer.

Nurse Gail Ingram explores Vitamin B17, laetrile, amygdalin: Cancer Cure or Scam?


A patient undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma recently asked me about Vitamin B17.  She had heard about a compelling new documentary and read online that it cures cancer.  I took a deep breath and calmly replied, “Vitamin B17 is not a vitamin and it does not cure cancer.”

What is Vitamin B17 if it isn’t a vitamin?  Vitamin B17 is a misleading name used to promote laetrile.   Laetrile (short for laevorotartory & delonitrile) is a semi-synthetic, chemically modified compound derived from amygdalin.   Amygdalin is a substance extracted from the pits of stone fruit (usually apricots) as well as almonds.  Laetrile and amygdalin are being touted as natural, plant-based cures for cancer by members of alternative therapy communities and supplement manufactures.  Unfortunately, this is an example of well-intentioned people being duped by others who seek to make money off their misfortune.

Research has shown, time and time again, that Vitamin B17, laetrile, and amygdalin are ineffective in treating cancer.  As recent as 2011, a team of medical researchers from Germany, England, and Belgium did a comprehensive review of all scientific data concerning laetrile and amygdalin for the treatment of cancer.  Eight databases were searched from as far back as 1951 up to February 2011.  Review articles, reference lists, and experts in the field were contacted in an effort to discover any additional unpublished studies or on-going clinical trials.   Over 200 references were found and 63 were appropriate for further analysis.  All 63 random control trials, quasi-random control trials, or clinical trials were either low-quality, highly flawed, unreliable, unable to be verified, or most importantly, showed no reduction of cancer with the use of laetrile or amygdalin.  The data review revealed that the risk of cyanide poisoning offsets any potential benefit from treatment.  The authors concluded that the use of laetrile and amygdalin should be discouraged and that there is no justification for further research.  Their findings were scrutinized by a panel of expert peers and published in the highly respected Cochran Database.  This  Level-1 systematic review is considered the gold-standard in the world of research.

Nevertheless, because scientists and pharmaceutical companies are eager to find a cure for cancer, laboratory experiments continue.  Despite in-vitro (petri dish) data that may suggest laetrile or amygdalin’s anti-tumor potential, the exact mechanism of action has yet to be identified.  These findings, combined with all other studies, do not warrant human trials.

Without human trials, there is no way to predict effective dosage amounts to potentially treat or prevent cancer.  Recommendations by manufacturers must remain below the cyanide toxicity threshold, however it is the action of cyanide that is suspected to impact tumors.  Therefore, the recommended dose will unlikely have any potential anti-cancer benefit.  It takes 50-60 apricot pits to produce a lethal dose of cyanide* but the lethal dose of laetrile is unknown since it is chemically altered from its original form in unregulated processing plants.  Broad-range testing of supplements has revealed that batches vary in potency and are rife with contaminants.  Complicating matters and providing an additional risk, there are people with a genetic predisposition for inadequate cyanide clearance.  Meaning, small amounts of cyanide build up quickly and a severe reaction occurs with a small dose.

But that doesn’t mean that plant-based products don’t have a prominent place in treating cancer.  There are many plant-based agents with significant positive results currently being investigated and actively used in cancer treatments.  Plant-based mitotic inhibitors are used in the treatment of breast and lung cancer, myelomas, lymphoma, and leukemia.  In fact, many medications are plant-based, so the argument that big pharma doesn’t want a low-cost “natural” cure is just not true.

I have spent years working with patients battling cancer in various contexts and I can attest that they are not claiming to have, nor are they presenting with, a reduction of cancer attributable to Vitamin B17, laetrile, amygdalin, bitter almond, or any linked compound or supplement.  I have worked with world renowned experts in the field of cancer (both MDs and PhDs) and they agree.  I can further state with confidence that any consistent trends noted in the oncology community would be rigorously explored.  Indications that Vitamin B17, laetrile or amygdalin decrease cancer tumors would prompt qualified, licensed, and practicing oncologists to share this information and present a multitude of case studies.  This is not happening because Vitamin B17, laetrile, and amygdalin do not cure cancer.


*Marcel, C. Apricot. CINAHL Nursing Guide. Ipswich, MA. November 21, 2014.

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  • Avatar Mike says:

    How much were you paid by big pharma to write this article? Shame on you.

    • says:

      Mike, thank you for giving us the opportunity to clarify by asking the question. To be clear, was not paid to publish the article, Vitamin B17, Laetrile, Amygdalin: Cancer Cure or Scam? Also, the nurse who wrote the article did not receive compensation of any kind. There was no involvement by ‘big pharma.’ Again, thank you for the comment.

    • Avatar stephenwv says:

      She could not go against the medical field or she would lose her license. However her statements do point out the lack of professional studies on the subject… which big pharma could conduct if there was a promising solution that would be able to be developed that would pay for those clinical trials… which there is not. It is not unlike injectable aspirin that was more potent than morphine for pain relief… no promise of any solution that would pay for all the necessary clinical trials.

  • Avatar Chris says:

    Very entertaining read–as in i laughed very hard.

    While i may agree that ”vitamin b17” probably should not be considered a vitamin, to the contrary, it should not be advertised (especially by someone who has no experience in this specific field, or conducted their own experiments) as some sort of toxin.

    Throw around the word Cyanide all you want, but there is no documented evidence of Apricot seeds, or Almonds, etc, causing more harm than good, and certainly not anything near death.

    Treating Cancer with Radiation therapy, is akin to having a patient with a gunshot wound, and using another firearm to shoot the bullet out of the body. Its idiotic, and completely hypocritical.

    Surely, if i swallowed an IV bag of chemo medicine, and my clone (hypothetically) swallowed 50 apricot seeds, my clone would either drop dead, or end up terminally ill, while i remained perfectly healthy, right?

    What people like Mike are getting at when they say those things, more or less have to do with the fact that certain ideas, and research have been ignored, and supressed. You imply the FDA (govt. controlled) holds all the information on ”why” B17 is ”illegal”, and/or does not cure, or treat any type of cancer. The FDA does not care what we do, as long as they can control it, and regulate it. They cannot regulate a tree, or plant that we could grow in our own backyards, or gardens. Therefore they could not generate revenue. Therefore, it is supressed. It must be pure coincidence that after it was discovered almonds held a vast supply of b17, that the FDA immediately sought to control how ”dry food” is processed, and in doing so, made sure the food was treated with a specific chemical, which is a known carcinogen.

    Before you start crying ”conspiracy theorist”, take a good, long look at our history in the early 1900s, and who–as far as big time funders–were, and what they had their hand in. JP Morgan selected Edisons vision of electricity over Nikola Teslas, because tesla pulled energy from the air, and generated it for free. That was a business decision, no conspiracy there.

    JP Morgan also had his hand in the medical scene, and brought about the proliferation of the AMA, and from a business standpoint, only created a well oiled machine with two parties, who continuously would need each other to survive–thats what a good business does. However, as smart as a business man JP Morgan was, he is complete scum as far as a human being goes, literally paving and laying brick for the foundation of his empire, upon dead bodies. The two parties i refer to, are the doctor, and the patient. A continuous, un-ending cycle.

    Things that break these empirical cycles are supressed, and buried by those whom it will affect most.

    The banning of certain fruit/nut trees, and ways to obtain B17 around the time of this entire cancer curing discovery had to have been coincidence as well, right?

    Dont be a sheep. Find your own truth, and dont let anybody tell you what ”is” or ”isnt”.

    • Gail Ingram NP Gail Ingram NP says:

      It seems you don’t know anything about me, nor have you fully read the article and analyzed the supporting literature.

    • Avatar Sean says:

      “but there is no documented evidence of Apricot seeds, or Almonds, etc, causing more harm than good, and certainly not anything near death.”

      Eating almonds wont kill you, but eating BITTER ALMONDS WILL kill you. Each contain at least 4mg of hydrogen cyanide (lethal dose 0.6mg/kg).

      “Treating Cancer with Radiation therapy, is akin to having a patient with a gunshot wound, and using another firearm to shoot the bullet out of the body. Its idiotic, and completely hypocritical.”

      Medical professionals would disagree with you and that atrocious analogy. Radiation treatment targets a specific area of the body like a malignant tumor and damages DNA in cancer cells to prevent the DNA from replicating and creating more cancer cells.

      “Surely, if i swallowed an IV bag of chemo medicine, and my clone (hypothetically) swallowed 50 apricot seeds, my clone would either drop dead, or end up terminally ill, while i remained perfectly healthy, right?”

      Red herring. You don’t orally ingest an entire IV bag of chemo instantly. It is administered intravenously over the span of a few hours. Swallowing an entire bag of apricot seeds (Bitter or sweet) however would definitely kill you. Bitter kernels contain 5%(1.8mg) cyanide and Sweet kernels 0.9%(0.3mg) it really doesn’t matter which seeds you ate at that point.

      Further reading Lerner IJ (1981). “Laetrile: a lesson in cancer quackery”. CA Cancer J Clin 31 (2): 91–5. doi:10.3322/canjclin.31.2.91. PMID 6781723.

      “tesla pulled energy from the air, and generated it for free.”

      Full stop on grounds of bunk conspiracies. You cannot generate energy for free. If you can find a way, please do it and you will never pay an electricity bill again.

      Please don’t spout random garbage from quacks and kooks who don’t know what they’re walking about.

    • Avatar Heath D Papp says:

      I lost my wife to cancer prior to the onslaught of natural cures’ publishing, plus she was a firm believer in her docs. I was not. Your knowledge about how chemical medical schools became accredited in the late 1930s is impressive. I attended and worked at University of Michigan as I attended and was completely sold on peer review. Then I found out who funds most studies, if you can even call them that. I do not trust a word that the American Murder Association publishes. I go to an MD and get tested for things, but integrative medicine is the future (if we want to continue to thrive) as evidenced by The Cleveland Clinic adopting this approach. If you take a look at Dr. Andrew Weil, you’ll learn a lot about the interaction between our environment and its affects both positive and negative on our bodies. I only play a doctor on TV, but I think the writing is on the wall for big pharma. Treatment by evaluation of food, exercise, time in nature, etc. is how I envision the future. When I’m really sick, I go get IV Vitamin C. There’s no arguing the potency of that. Sorry, I rambling and feel that I could have done more to keep my wife alive, as we had a six month old when she was diagnosed.

  • Avatar Chris says:

    Excellent rebuttal. The points you made in the entire one sentence containing 10 whole words literally tore my post to shreds. *infinitely huge eyeroll*

    You are part of the problem. My post reflects a certain path i’ve taken over the course of my career. Anyone with common sense, and general understanding of logic (2+2=4) can see right through the infidelity associated with the foundation on which our country amassed in the early 20th century.

    If you have not noticed by now that nobody outside your immediate family truly cares about you, then there is absolutely no hope for you, and the people that let you shovel this drivel onto the internet, passing statistical coincidence off as fact. Money is all that matters. Pharmaceutical companies have CEOs and board members who only care about the expansion of their business.

    Let me ask you, if a robot was built that could do your job, for free, and put you out of business, and you had the chance to disassemble it, and dispose of it, so it was never seen again…what would you do? Surely you wouldnt go quietly home that afternoon, and tell your husband/wife all hope is lost, and your career is over.

    No, thats not what humans do. We do selfish things, like hide cures for disease to make a quick buck.

    At this point im pretty convinced you’re a complete shill.

    But hey, when insurance companies that are in bed with the AMA can pressure doctors and the like to keep quiet about things like this, responses like i just got from you are about par for the course.

    Good day, and dont you dare delete my comments.

    • Gail Ingram NP Gail Ingram NP says:

      Writing is very therapeutic and I’m glad you are comfortable venting. But the moderators frown on threats and name calling.

  • Avatar Alan Amador says:

    My Grandmother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer (Breast) in the early 70s. She had radical Mastectomy in US and went home to the Philippines. She was given 3-6 months to live. As a doctor (with a daughter who was a Nurse) and knowing full well the side effects of chemotherapy, she refused treatment. A fellow doctor, who found out that she would not be taking the chemical treatment, suggested an alternative using B17, pancreatic enzymes and a strict diet – following the literature “World without Cancer”.

    I got to know my grandmother. She met my fiancé in 1997. She lived a full life. She passed away in 1999 due to natural causes.

  • Avatar Rudy Ocampo says:

    Manuel Navarro, M.D., of the Philippines is former Professor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila; an Associate Member of the National Research Council of the Philippines; a Fellow of the Philippine College of Physicians, the Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism; and a member of the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Cancer Society, and many other medical groups. He has been recognized internationally as a cancer researcher and has over one hundred major scientific papers to his credit, some of which have been read before the International Cancer Congress.

    In 1971 Dr. Navarro wrote:

    I … have specialized in oncology [the study of tumors] for the past eighteen years. For the same number of years I have been using Laetrile–amygdalin in the treatment of my cancer patients. During this eighteen year period I have treated a total of over five hundred patients with Laetrile & amygdalin by various routes of administration, including the oral and the I.V. The majority of my patients receiving Laetrile–amygdalin have been in a terminal state when treatment with this material commenced.

    It is my carefully considered clinical judgment, as a practicing oncologist and researcher in this field, that I have obtained most significant and encouraging results with the use of Laetrile & amygdalin in the treatment of terminal cancer patients, and that these results are comparable or superior to the results I have obtained with the use of the more toxic standard cytotoxic agents. (Letter from Dr. Navarro to Mr. Andrew McNaughton, The McNaughton Foundation, dated January 8, 1971, published in the Cancer News Journal, Jan./April, 1971, pp. 19 — 20.)

  • Avatar Evalene says:

    Nurse Gail,
    a quote from your “Nurse Gail Ingram explores Vitamin B17, laetrile, amygdalin: Cancer Cure or Scam” “Research has shown, time and time again, that Vitamin B17, laetrile, and amygdalin are ineffective in treating cancer.”
    Well, I have to go along with Mike:
    Mike says:
    02/04/2015 AT 8:55 AM
    How much were you paid by big pharma to write this article? Shame on you.

    YES, SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!
    My nephew was diagnosed with Stage 4 Prostrate Cancer with a tumor the size of a baseball in his buttocks and cancer that had metastasized into the hips and shoulders in Jan 2016. His doctor wanted to start radiation immediately. He said NO, and searched for an alternative treatments. He changed his unhealthy fast food diet to all plant based, with NO sugar, simmered the bones for 24 hrs from non-hormone, non antibiotic chicken to release the collagen & nutrients and made healthy veg soup. He took lots of vitamins, one being B17: 500 mg 3 x per day. By end of April his high PSA reading of 242 (for cancer) had gone down to 22! By June, the tumor was about the size of a small grape, and cancer reading at 2!!! He will undoubtedly be “cancer free” soon! God gave us what we need in our food to stay well and man has messed it up. The pharmaceutical companies and medical industry are killing people with chemo, radiation, and surgeries!!!!! I was blind to the truth also until I witnessed my nephews healing, a healing with NO side effects!!!!!.
    The “Story” you wrote about B17 being ineffective is a bunch of bunk!!!!! B17 and a healthy diet are the key to healing from cancer and also for prevention of cancer. This was proven yrs ago in the early 50’s by Dr Krebb’s. 1,000’s of people were cured of cancer with B17 also know as Laetrile until the 1970’s when Big Pharma saw to it that it was OUTLAWED in the US. Big Pharma can’t make any money off of B17/Laetrile because it is plant based and can’t be patented. Therefore, they made it illegal to be sold in the US. Killing people with chemo, radiation and surgeries is YOUR SCAM!!!!!!! It’s time for American’s to wake up and put an end to this nonsense!!!!!

  • Avatar Zoforia says:

    Hi…what is the conclusion…?
    Vitamin 17 is anti-cancer or not?

    • says:

      There are a couple of things that qualify as “anti-cancer” when discussing drugs. The drug should stop the cancer’s rapid cell division AND it should stop the spread of the cancer cells to other parts of the body. In all the testing done on “Vitamin B17”, the drug fails to do both. It is like taking one step forward and two steps back. A new chemical derivative may be discovered with pending research, but in its current form, “Vitamin B17” or Amygdalin or Laetrile isn’t “anti-cancer.”

  • Avatar Kavi says:

    What a pity! People always believe lies so easily when the lies promise to do something miraculous. Wake up people! Don’t be so adamant. Please don’t advice people by blindly believing the hoaxes. Providing wrong information might even make you a murderer. If cancer is curable by B17, why don’t all the media start telecasting about it in the news? Please don’t say that they too got money from the pharmacies!

  • Avatar ray says:

    hi my name is ray i have been trying to get a straight answer from Health Canada about this food guide and b17 a lot of things that they recommend ore hi in b 17 I have been trying to get an answer. should I be eating these foods that they recommend that ore good for us that or hi in b17 I am confused

    • says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting. To clarify, B17 is not a vitamin and it is not naturally occurring. You cannot get it from food–it is made in a lab.

  • Avatar Marlene Eisnor says:

    Thank you for your information on this topic. It has helped me to see that there are many nurses as well as doctors that like to say they are helping cancer patients but still think it’s great to poison them with cemo, radiation and hacking them up with surgeries for money.

    • says:

      In the post, there is no mention of chemo, radiation, or “hacking” patients up for money. Individuals are responsible for living their lives however they see fit and, in the event of a cancer diagnosis, it is their decision to choose an appropriate treatment option (which, for some, might be no medical intervention at all). Medical professionals do not administer chemo, radiation, or perform surgery without a signed consent that clearly states the patient understands the risks, limitations, and possible outcomes of treatment.

  • Avatar Maira Ridgill says:

    Your place is valuable for me. Thanks!

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