Medical Questions » Cancer Questions » Question No. 1255
Question:What are your views on the use of laetrile (B17) for cancer treatment/prevention?
Answer:Laetrile, an extract from the apricot kernel, has often been used in aggressive anti-cancer strategies. It acts more like chemotherapy, but is claimed to target only the cancer cells. When laetrile is broken down by the body, one of its components is cyanide. Normal, non-cancerous cells contain an enzyme that converts this to thiocyanate, a non-toxic substance used by the body to make vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin). Cancer cells lack this enzyme and are effectively poisoned. Another breakdown product of laetrile - benzoic acid - is said to act as a natural painkiller.

The California Medical Association were critical of its value as an anti-cancer substance, although their report did state, ' All the physicians whose patients were reviewed spoke of an increase in the sense of wellbeing and appetite, gain in weight and decrease in pain.' It continues to be used, with reported success, as part of various natural anti-cancer regimes. Like shark cartilage, it is not a necessary part of a prevention strategy.

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