This treatment modality is used in place of conventional therapies to treat cancer. Seek advice from a qualified physician before replacing standard cancer therapy with Laetrile therapy.
What does Laetrile therapy involve?
Laetrile, also known as amygdalin, Vitamin B17, sarcarcinase and nitriloside, is a natural substance found in the pits of some fruits and nuts. Laetrile is a compound that can release cyanide, a lethal molecule. Treatment with Laetrile is commonly administered intravenously for two to three weeks. The treatment is followed up by oral maintenance doses.
How is Laetrile thought to treat cancer?
There are two theories by which Laetrile is claimed to work:
1. Cyanide Release Theory
Beta-glucosidase, an enzyme which is thought to exist in large quantities in cancerous tissue, causes the release of hydrogen cyanide from Laetrile. Cyanide stops tumor respiration and selectively kills the cancerous tissue.
2. Vitamin Deficiency Theory
Cancer is the result of a vitamin deficiency and Laetrile is the missing “vitamin B17.”
What has been proven about the benefit of Laetrile?
Scientific studies have been conducted for over twenty years and no evidence of any antitumor activity, in either animals or humans, has been found. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved laetrile as a treatment for cancer, although the drug is manufactured and distributed as a cancer treatment in Mexico.
What is the potential risk or harm of Laetrile?
While taking Laetrile, patients may experience nausea, vomiting, headache and dizziness. There are several reports in the medical literature in which Laetrile caused life-threatening toxicity and even death. Cyanide toxicity can cause progressive neuromuscular weakness and respiratory arrest.
How much does laetrile cost?
Laetrile is usually given as part of a larger treatment program and can cost between $2,000 and $5,000 per week.
For additional information:
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Post Office Box 7923
Gaithersburg, MD 20898–7923
Telephone: (888) 644–6226
Web site: http://nccam.nih.gov
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.