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Laetrile will relieve you of your money, not your cancer

In this post, I will be discussing the misguided notion that laetrile (aka amygdalin or, misleadingly, “vitamin B17″) acts as an effective therapy against cancer, with particular attention to the website “World Without Cancer“. This is not because it’s been in the news recently, but because of this site’s “Google positioning”, so to speak: googling “nontoxic.org.uk” brings up the World Without Cancer website as one of the top results. Hence, I see it as something of a duty to use this position wisely, and to demonstrate why some of the wild (yet at first glance convincing) claims made on the site are unjustified. It is also the first post on this blog in which I attempt to address the thorny issue of religion, where I feel my opinions are very different to a large proportion of the pseudoscience-debunking blogging community.

First of all, however, the World Without Cancer site.

“World Without Cancer” takes its name from a book by G. Edward Griffin which rather fancifully claims that “laetrile suppression” is part of a major conspiracy from a number of groups with financial interests in drug-related research. The book appears on Quackwatch’s list of nonrecommended books for cancer patients who may be considering alternative treatments. The site makes similar claims, that laetrile was hailed by “many” as a control for all cancers, and that:

[the] pharmaceutical multinationals, unable to patent or claim exclusive rights to the vitamin [laetrile], launched a propaganda attack of unprecedented viciousness against B-17 [laetrile], despite the fact that hard proof of its efficiency in controlling all forms of cancer surrounds us in overwhelming abundance.

Laetrile is a synthetic compound made from amygdalin, itself an extract from almonds or apricot stones. However, despite the fact that the two are distinct chemical compounds, the names are frequently confounded. Further confusion arises by the fact that Ernest T. Krebs, who “discovered” the compound, arbitrarily named it as “vitamin B17″, despite the fact that laetrile is not a vitamin. It is, however, marketed as a vitamin to give it a false sense of legitimacy.

Much is made on the World Without Cancer website of the “overwhelming abundance” of “hard proof” of laetrile’s “efficiency of controlling all forms of cancer”. In a nutshell (boom boom), the mechanism by which this “control” (a very ambiguous term which appears repeatedly to imply “cure”, an implication which the hard-to-find small-print denies) is alleged to work (on this page) appears to be as follows: the compound amygdalin can be decomposed into cyanide, benzaldehyde and glucose; this decomposition only takes place with the presence of a particular enzyme (betaglucosidase); this enzyme is only found in cancer cells; thus, voilà, the poisons cyanide and benzaldehyde only attack the cancer cells and not benign cells from body organs. Abracadabra. It is also claimed (on another page) that our “normal cells” (but not cancerous cells) contain an enzyme called Rhodanese, which allegedly “neutralises” the amygdalin, preventing it from releasing cyanide. How convenient.

If this claim is true (or at least, justifiable), then we should now be able to turn to the references and examine the “overwhelming abundance” of “hard proof” of this effect. Of course, because this is a scientific claim, these references should be presented clearly so that they are easy to follow, refer to peer-reviewed research that can be found in academic library collections, and be an accurate representation of the wider body of scientific research. Sadly, this practice appears not to have been followed. Here, out of an overwhelming list of 79 references, are the first 15:

  • Clinical Oncology for Medical Students and Physicians, op. cit, pp.32 , 34
  • Spontaneous Regression of Cancer: “The Metabolic Triumph of the Host!”, op. cit.,pp. 136, 137.
  • Manner, HW, Michaelson, TL, and DiSanti, SJ. “Enzymatic Analysis of Normal and Malignant Tissues.” Presented at the Illinois State Academy of Science, April 1978. Also, Manner, HW, Michaelson, TL, and DiSanti, SJ, “Amygdalin, Vitamin A and Enzymes Induced Regression of Murine Mammary Adenocarcinomas”, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Vol 1, No. 4, December 1978. 200 East Roosevelt Road, Lombard, IL 60148 USA
  • Vitamin B15 (Pangamic Acid); Properties, Functions, and Use. (Moscow: Science Publishing House, 1965), translated and reprinted by McNaughton Foundation, Sausalito, Calif.
  • Catalona, et al. Medical World News, 6/23/72, pg 82M California cancer Advisory council, 1963, pg 10 Weilerstein, R. W., ACS Volunteer, 19, #1, 1973
  • Burger, Hospital Practice, July, 1973, 55-62
  • Currie & Bagshawe, Lancet, 1, (7492), 708, 1967
  • Abercrombie, Ca. Res. 22, 525, 1962
  • Cormack, Ca. Res. 30, (5), 1459, 1970
  • catalona, et al. Medical World News, 6/23/72, pg 82M
  • Jose, Nut. Today, March, 1973, pgs 4-9
  • Burk & Winzler, VITAMINS AND HORMONES, vol. II, 1944
  • Adcock et al, Science, 181, 8/31/73, 845-47
  • Dr. Dean Burk formerly chief of cytochemistry, The National cancer institute, and Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, Science Director of The National Health Federation, Formerly an editor of chemical Abstracts.
  • Fairley, Brit. Med. J. 2,1969, 467-473

Just about everything is wrong here. The remaining 64 are not much better. None of the 79 references date from conference paper third on the list, i.e. 1978. Very few of these references are full – in many cases the titles are missing. In some cases, like the first two, the dates are missing. In a number of cases, this makes finding the reference either a complete pain in the ass or a totally impossible task. Something tells me that this is not done by accident. Correct referencing is, in fact, surprisingly simple, particularly in this day and age with free, open-source reference managers such as BibTeX, Zotero and CiteULike. Zotero, in particular, is a fantastic software project which I recommend to all researchers wholeheartedly. There really is no excuse for incomplete referencing these days.

Let’s start at the beginning, with the two undated references. Both of these contain the abbreviation “op. cit.”. I admit I had to look up what this meant:

Op. cit. (Latin, short for “opus citatum”/”opere citato”, meaning “the work cited/from the cited work”) is the term used to provide an endnote or footnote citation to refer the reader to an earlier citation. To find the Op. cit. source, one has to look at the previous footnotes or general references section to find the relevant author.

Wait, what? What previous citation? These two are top of the list!

The second reference contains another error: it is misquoted. The actual, full citation is this:

Cole, W.H., 1974. Spontaneous Regression Of Cancer: The Metabolic Triumph Of The Host? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 230(Paraneoplastic Syndromes), 111-141.

The subtle change of a question mark to an exclamation mark completely changes the title’s meaning. Don’t believe me? Try reading “Sorry!” and “Sorry?” out loud and see for yourself. In fact, just for fun, while you’re at it, try reading “O Watana Siam” out loud as well. Particularly if you’re reading this in a library or a busy internet café.

Reference number three refers in fact to two conference papers presented by Harold W. Manner and colleagues in the 70′s. These papers are not readily available. However, much of Manner’s work has been widely debunked by the American Cancer Society. Manner operated (or maybe still operates) a clinic in Mexico offering courses of laetrile therapy at extortionate cost. Conflict of interests, perhaps?

The fourth reference cites literature on another bogus “vitamin”: pangamic acid. Quite what its relevance is to laetrile is anyone’s guess. In any case, the lack of evidence supporting the medicinal value of pangamic acid is discussed here.

The fifth reference is, again, an untidy mish-mash, this time of three articles. One of them is in fact repeated later in the list (the tenth reference). None of the three articles could be easily sourced.

I could go on, but even going through these 15 references would be a pointless slog, not least because none of them is complete. Even finding the ones that are readily available is difficult and requires some extensive detective work. I would like to hope that this is just unintentional sloppiness, though I doubt it. Making the references as difficult as possible to check, whilst still retaining a sense of “sciency-ness” about their sheer number, is a very deliberate ploy. If this is a false allegation, then I challenge the authors to tidy up their references, after which I will retract that statement.

A couple of more recent papers regarding the efficacy of laetrile have emerged. The first, published in 2007, contains a systematic review of all the published data related to “the effectiveness or safety of laetrile interventions as a treatment of any type of cancer”. The study included articles sourced not only from “conventional” medical literature databases such as PubMed and Medline, but also from alternative medicine publication databases. Thirty-six studies were included. No controlled clinical trials were found. The authors concluded (unsurprisingly) that “the claim that laetrile has anticancer effects is, therefore, not supported by data from controlled clinical trials”. The authors also noted that a number of apparently positive results had been reported, however “all positive results came from case reports and case series where subjective responses could erroneously be interpreted as objective evidence of efficacy”. This paragraph from the discussion describes the biases inherent in these studies beautifully:

There are several reasons why the few allegedly positive results may, in fact, be ‘false positives’. In particular, one should question whether patients actually had cancer to
start with, whether the alleged benefit was due to laetrile or to concomitant treatments, and whether the outcome was real or assumed. None of the “positive” cases have been reported in sufficient detail to be sure on all these accounts. Furthermore, some of them were reported by authors who one might suspect of a conflict of interest.

The paper even mentions that the proposed mechanism of magic enzymes conveniently appearing in the right places may be (surprise, surprise) mythical. There is “no experimental evidence to show that malignant and healthy cells differ in rhodanese enzymes [citation] nor that betaglucosidase is contained in tumor tissues [citation].” In other words, the neutralising enzyme appears not only in your body cells but also in the cancer cells to a more or less equal extent, and the enzyme that releases the cyanide from amygdalin isn’t in the cancer cells at all. Whoops.

The second, published in January this year, is from the “Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine”. The paper claims that evidence on laetrile is mixed between supportive and unsupportive, and that there is evidence suggesting that “condemnation of laetrile may have been premature”. The author is Stephen D. Krashen, emeritus professor at the University of Southern California’s… School of Education. His expertise is in the field of linguistics and second language acquisition. Not, as one might assume from the paper alone, in medicine or public health.

Still, credentials are often misleading; what’s important is whether the data are unbiased, the methods are rigorous and the analysis is sound. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The first part of the paper looks at how different “studies” have categorised cancer cases and “positive responses from laetrile” as reported in a single paper (this one). Krashen identifies nine studies:

The first five entries are from refereed journals, the sixth (NCI) is a website, the seventh is a report from the US Congress, and the eighth and ninth are books.

Ah yes, “books”, those reliable, peer-reviewed sources of informed, unbiased, unopinionated study. “Books”, where one can safely assume no competing interests at all. Give me strength. Unsurprisingly, the “books” show the most favourable categorisation of the results. It is even more unsurprising to learn that one of the books is the World Without Cancer Book mentioned above. The other one, “The Cancer Industry” is written by Ralph Moss, who sells “Cancer Reports” for $297 a pop (so has a financial interest embedded in confusing people about cancer). His site is full of the usual canards, testimonials from customers and “experts”, numerous mentions of CAM, use of the letters PhD to bolster credentials, and so on. Quackwatch has a good, concise review of the book.

Krashen’s grasp of statistical methods is as poor as his regard for bias within his sources. Oddly, he begins by stating that statistical analysis was not suitable “because of the selection process used”. He then proceeds to conduct a statistical analysis. Eh?

The analysis compares data for the laetrile-treatment group with the no-treatment group. Quite why one would choose to do that is anyone’s guess, since Ellison’s report contained data on cases treated with chemotherapy. It is not sufficient only to show that a new treatment is better than nothing; it has to be shown to be better than the best currently available treatment.

The analysis proceeds rather curiously by whittling away the total number of cases in the laetrile-treatment group until the data finally showed a “statistically significant” result. The basis for this is that some of the results were inconclusive or represented “stable disease”. Funnily enough, the Krashen is not so scrupulous with the comparison group. Furthermore, Krashen presents results from both one-tailed and two-tailed tests, implying that his hypothesis is not clearly set out before commencing his analysis. He then has the gall to state that because he didn’t then go all the way and include the questionable positive cases as categorised by Moss and Griffin, that his analysis was “conservative”.

So, in summary, Krashen bases his argument on a statistical analysis where there is no clear hypothesis, a dodgy comparison group and arbitrary disposal of negative results, and these are considered conservative because they don’t diagnose positive and negative cases according to the most biased categorisation criteria he could find. Instead, it appears, he chose the second or third most biased categorisation. Still not exactly neutral then. As the final nail in the coffin, Krashen’s closing statement spectacularly misses the point of evidence-based medicine:

Clearly, Laetrile is considered guilty until it is proven innocent.

Sigh. Try “considered useless until it is proven effective” and then you might be closer to the mark.

So anyway, back to World Without Cancer. There is no evidence that laetrile is effective in controlling cancer, despite the fanciful claims. What’s particularly galling – and here’s the religion bit – is the sporadic interspertion of Bible verses around the site. As those of you who have seen my about page will know, I am a Christian, and openly subscribe to the teachings of Jesus, and use the concept of “God” to frame my understanding of the world. I make no apology for my own beliefs, and use them to underpin a lot of my scientific understanding. For me, God represents “all knowledge”, and “seeking to be more like God” is another way of saying “furthering my scientific understanding”. I don’t subscribe to the increasingly fashionable view that religion and science are diametrically opposed combatives in an eternal war against each other. I do agree with many skeptics that there are a lot of (pseudo-)religious nutcases spouting utter nonsense out there, claiming to offer religious or spiritual guidance. I do not, however, conclude that this means that religion as a whole is a nonsensical waste of time which is by definition dangerous. In a similar vein, there are a number of pseudo-scientists spouting equally despicable nonsense, claiming to offer the next new miracle cure. The difference, in my view, is that practitioners of good scientific study are active and vocal in their debunking of pseudo-science, yet those for whom religious activity is a positive thing (through cultural identification, pastoral care of the isolated and vulnerable, provision of a regular community focal point enhancing social cohesion, and so on) have unfortunately chosen to largely turn a blind eye to the nonsense and the bigotry and thus allow it to hijack the concept of “religion” and thus the public perception of it. Jesus, the story goes, was highly active in debunking the corrupt and nonsensical religious establishments of the time. I see it as my duty to debunk pseudo-science such as World Without Cancer, and at the same time, when I see it accompanied by pseudo-theology such as the following:

“These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgement in your courts.” (Zechariah 8:16)

“Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” (Ephesians 4:25)

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

it upsets me on two fronts. This sort of pseudo-theology suffers from similar canardery to bad science: cherry-picking (of Bible verses, rather than scientific studies), misrepresentation, over-extrapolation, taking things out of context, and so on. The Bible verses they cite speak of “truth” but alas, there is none to be found. In fact, in this post I aim to have done exactly what those verses instruct.

I hope to return to this theme in future blog posts, that holding spiritual beliefs does not automatically mean you have to be completely incapable of scientific thinking. For now, though, I wish to reiterate the point of this post: the quack miracle cures promoted by World Without Cancer are falsehoods and are more likely to relieve you of your money than your cancer. I hope that discussion will focus on this.

Amen.

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25 comments to Laetrile will relieve you of your money, not your cancer

  • HCN

    Brilliant, thank you! You gave me just the right amunition against Dr. Krashen when he posted his crud on laetrile on ScienceBasedMedicine.

    Why aren’t you on the badscienceblogs? Is it because you are new, and a student (which probably translates into very little time)?

    By the way, my ‘nym is based on my initials as seen on the chemistry class roster. They are my actual initials, only with the last name first. I thought it was cool, so I adopted it on Usenet, especially when the guys pushing laetrile would pop up to peddle their poison (literally!).

  • HCN

    (by the way you were #1 on a google search for the search terms “krashen laetrile”, good show!)

  • michaelgrayer

    Gosh! Thanks!

    Basically I’m not on badscienceblogs yet because I’m new to this. Thanks for the reference on the ScienceBasedMedicine website, and I’m glad that my critical appraisal of Krashen’s paper was helpful. However, please refrain from using it as a basis to have a dig at Krashen personally.

    Krashen’s use of his Doctorate to potentially embellish his credentials is an issue, but not the main one. There is no reason per se that a professor of education, English, engineering, early music or whatever can’t write a balanced, objective, critically reasoned and evidence-based scientific article. Indeed, in my ideal future, I would hope that that would become the norm rather than the exception. However, in this particular case (as is the current norm), the scientific quality of Krashen’s article is poor.

    The main issue is not one of credentials, but of the quality of the article: was the evidence free from bias; were the statistical methods appropriate and correctly used; was the conclusion appropriate? It is in the answers to these three questions that Krashen’s passionate defence of laetrile fails to stand up to scrutiny.

    I have been careful to stick to criticising not Krashen himself, but the paper (that he wrote) which contains the basis of many of his claims that he has been spreading with reckless abandon around the internet. Krashen may be a very nice chap in the main, and I would hope that this effort doesn’t preclude him from writing good, evidence-based, non-paranoia-driven articles in the future. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them.

  • HCN

    Point taken. I do tend to get hot-headed because I had been dealing with laetrile peddlers on Usenet for a while.

    Though his entire rebuttal was to tell me to take my meds. Nice guy or not, it was not a good sign. I liken his expertise up there with John Scudamore.

    Anyway, he was essentially telling Dr. Wallace Sampson that the research he did after three of his cancer patients died after leaving his care and getting laetrile in Mexico was very flawed. I believe that Krashen did not really know about Dr. Sampson’s research, and personal experience with laetrile.

  • Dazed

    I fell asleep last night reading this article and just woke up and finished it, so I imagine I’m not very articulate right now, but I wanted to add a point.

    When it comes to alternative treatments I often hear the argument, “[the treatment] is discredited and propagandized by Big Pharma because it can’t be patented and there’s no money to be made from it.”

    While your analysis here is thorough and convincing on the face of things, it provides no assurance that it hasn’t been tainted in this way. Now I’m not saying it has, but how do we know that your sources for claims like “no betaglucosidase in tumour cells” aren’t influenced by parties who make money from current mainstream cancer treatments.

    I haven’t actually looked at your sources, and again, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with them, but assume for a moment there were a conspiracy to hide laetrile’s benefits, is your research thorough enough, and your sources independent enough, to conclusively show this isn’t true?

  • michaelgrayer

    Thank you for your question. I am currently drafting a reply. But before I actually spend any more of my time carefully constructing my arguments (my free time, I might add), I would be very grateful if you would do me the courtesy of actually checking my sources first. Unlike the worldwithoutcancer.org.uk website, I have not inundated the reader with lots of higgledy-piggledy “sciencey-looking” references, and those that I have provided, I have been very careful to ensure that they are easily followable.

    I am more than happy to engage in the debate, and am open to informed criticism, but you’ll need to provide a little more than just an unsubstantiable knee-jerk “ooh, but there might be a conspiracy” to convince me that there’s a debate worth having.

  • Dazed

    You seem to miss my point. I don’t believe any conspiracy exists, and nothing I said could be described as knee-jerk, nor do I wish to debate this.

    The fact is, the other side of the argument you’re making claims there is corruption and dishonesty in the science you’re citing, and you don’t seem to have addressed that at all.

    I’m not agreeing with them, just pointing out that the medical conspiracy forms a large part of the laetrile claims. If the integrity of the sources is compromised, you can make well-formatted citations till the cows come home, without accomplishing anything.

  • michaelgrayer

    And you seem to have missed mine. You are quite right, I have avoided your point because you implicitly criticised the integrity of the sources I quoted without having followed them yourself.

    I gave specific reasons why the book sources used in the Krashen text and the obfuscatory “sciencey-looking” references were flawed. It is true, I do consider the Cochrane review by Milazzo and the references it cites to be more reliable. I invite you to read it too and see if you arrive at the same conclusion yourself. If you don’t, then please state your specific reasons why and we can take the discussion from there.

  • Dazed

    People who believe laetrile is effective in curing cancer implicitly accept the “conspiracy to suppress it” story.

    Your article seems, to me, an attempt to point out the fallacy in this.

    I would simply find it more compelling if you had included something stating why the evidence you chose to cite is immune to the influence of the previously mentioned conspiracy.

  • Re the potential “funder biases” that “Dazed” seems to be alluding to, here are a a few sentences from the Cochrane review on laetrile that might be deemed relevant here:

    DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

    We certify that we have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with a direct financial interest in the subject matter of the review.

    SOURCES OF SUPPORT

    Internal sources
    • No sources of support supplied

    External sources
    • European Commission CAM Cancer project, Belgium.

    In discussing assessments of the evidence for and against CAM, CAM advocates routinely scream “bought and paid for by Big Pharma” when it is patently not true. You can certainly critique trials of patented drugs that are run by the company owning the patent this way, as people in the mainstream medical literature often do. However, in the main, people who systematically review CAM literature for things like Cochrane are funded not by “Big Pharma”, but are academics funded by Govt-sponsored initiatives set up specifically to review the evidence for CAM interventions.

    In addition, the criticisms made of small anecdotal studies, including those published in the “grey” (alternative) lit, are not criticisms specific to CAM therapies. They are standard criticisms that are the hard-won legacy of a half century of trying to work out what kinds of evidence are most likely to be reliable… which is what the “science-based medicine” movement is all about.

  • Dazed

    Thanks for that. As a layman, I don’t know much about that, and I don’t want to have to go research some medical organization myself to determine if your article is credible.

  • Spencer

    I have began eating raw apricot kernels and apple seeds. I eat 4-6 kernels/day or 1 apple with the seeds/day, I have been doing this since 2005, originally it started out as a bet that mom and I had made. The bet was she would get treat her breast cancer with chemo and would treat my Squamous cell carcinoma cell cancer with something I was told would kill me as well. Hey and guess what? Well, mom died in 2006. I continue to have my blood checked often by my oncologist in TX. No sign of organ failure yet. Why is that? I pretty sure that the reason why most of these laetrile therapies get reported as a “hoax” is because the results are primarily from patients who had been treated with Chemo first. Chemo destroys your bodies ability to do anything on its own, you become a Chemo-Head, or just another junkie having to be “managed”, riddled with fear and riddled with chemicals derived from the “Rockefeller Age”
    She was handed the same line of how this is very “manageable” cancer. Please! This is sick, wake-up people!

  • michaelgrayer

    I am sorry to hear about the loss of your mother to breast cancer. The loss of a loved-one to cancer is definitely a tragic experience – I lost my uncle to lymphoma last year. He was 62. How old was your mother when she died?

    Undergoing chemotherapy is not a pleasant experience – having seen my uncle go through it I would not wish it on anyone. However, it was the only chance he had. He certainly didn’t become a “junkie” of any sort – after recovering from each round of treatment, he was fully determined and able to go about his everyday work with just as much enthusiasm, if not more, than before. I truly admired him for this strength and perseverance, right to the end, in the face of such awful adversity.

    This is why I become particularly cross when such an attitude is stifled by quacks who exploit the vulnerabilities of those who feel discouraged by the re-emergence of a cancer after several rounds of chemo. These quacks are the ones that riddle you with fear – fear that chemo is some kind of “Big Pharma” conspiracy, and in fact is akin to heroin or other monstrous narcotic. It is nothing of the sort. Quack “cures” such as laetrile therapies are hoaxes because those that sell them don’t ever let you know about the non-success stories – those who either died of cancer or cyanide poisoning having handed over big bucks for the substance that ultimately killed them.

    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1162

  • Anon

    The Manner mice studies showed that amygdalin by itself had no effect.
    on mouse tumors that were already at the lethal stage.
    When mixed with proteolytic enzymes the effect was more dramatic than
    proteolytic enzymes alone. The effect on the mice was claimed to be 100%
    It has been shown that in cancer patients the blood lacks something
    which causes tumours to lyse. It was found out that this was due to missing
    lipo-proteolytic enzymes.
    In a healthy patient (pancreas is functioning correctly) these enzymes should be
    intact and therefore the amygdalin (Nitriloside) will function correctly in destroying
    the tumor.
    Quackwatch asserts that in the Manner mice studies the tumour destruction
    was due to injecting the tumours with meat tenderiser.
    If this was the case then why was the skin untouched in the mice and more importantly
    since Quackwatch admits that these enzymes ARE effective against tumours why
    is this therapy not in use in mainstream today?
    (Injecting an all encompassing proteolytic enzyme under the skin should cause absesses)
    Also why was the effect more pronounced in the amygdalin/enzyme arm of the study
    vs. just the enzymes alone?
    Recent studies done by Gonzalez showed that oral proteolytic enzymes
    (the enzymes he uses in his practice) have dramatic any cancer effect.
    This weakens even further the Quackwatch rebuttal.
    The enzymes appear to be tumor specific. The Quackwatch article is
    incorrect.
    The laetrile hypothesis states that it is the combined action of a correctly functioning
    pancreas (enzymes)+nitriloside(diet) combined with immune system which prevent cancer.
    It is a shame that this beautiful theory has not been explored properly in mainstream science.

  • michaelgrayer

    That comment is so full of unsubstantiated claims, non-sequiturs, mixed-up meanings, weasel words and utter nonsense it is barely worth responding to.

    Besides (funnily enough) I am not Quackwatch. The Quackwatch article I cited earlier was about Ralph Moss’s book. So quite what you’re doing responding to Quackwatch’s article about laetrile here is anybody’s guess. It’s totally irrelevant here. If you have something intelligent to add vis a vis my article, then please feel free. Otherwise, you can take issue with Quackwatch about his article over on his site.

  • Jeff

    Michael, you seem to be basing some of your opposition to laetrile on your annoyance that your uncle’s admirable and resilient attitude (to the disappointments he must have felt due to the failures of his chemo treatment)is not being allowed to be expressed by those patients who choose to use laetrile. Surely, you don’t advocate patients suffering in order to give them the chance to behave in a dignified fashion in the face of adversity?

  • michaelgrayer

    @Jeff:
    That’s a good question, and the answer is no, of course I don’t. My annoyance is not due to what you say at all. My annoyance is due to the laetrile theory (i.e. total bunkum) being peddled to people who are in just as much suffering as my uncle was but are more vulnerable in the sense that they are not savvy enough to realise that it is total bunkum and in their desperation part with vast sums of money for something which sounds marvellous but is, in fact, based on nonsense. Extremely well thought-out and very sciency-sounding nonsense, true, but nonsense nonetheless.
    In fact, in respect to your final question, I think I have made it quite clear that I advocate entirely the reverse.

  • Anon

    Author’s responses in bold.
    “Laetrile will relieve you of your money, not your cancer”
    Funny, I thought when you did science you looked at _all_ the evidence. Not really. You have to decide which evidence is based on a robust methodology and which is based on complete nonsense, and only look at the former, regardless of how loudly the people who wrote the latter shout at you.
    The material I listed is common knowledge in Laetrile debate (that’s no excuse for you failing to provide me with a clear reference for it so that I could go and read it without wasting my time),
    that is the Manner studies and the Max Wolf studies.
    The Manner studies and the Max Wolf studies? You didn’t mention the Max Wolf studies before.
    Since you cried about lack of references it shows you don’t even
    have a clue about Laetrile. Seems that you are just ranting off
    a mainstream view?
    I think you misunderstand the point of referencing. Good referencing doesn’t mean you quote hundreds and hundreds of books and articles simply as “the Manner studies” or “those articles wot Krashen wrote”. Good referencing means that when you do provide a citation, you make it absolutely crystal clear for any reader what work you’re citing so that they can quickly and conveniently look it up for themselves.
    Have you actually been to the OASIS of hope hospital and reviewed the case
    studies of those who are treated with metabolic therapy?Of course I haven’t. Why should I? Anecdotes are not data. Case studies are not representative samples. It’s very easy to sweep the ones whose treatment was a failure or who had the strength to say “hold on a minute, this is cobblers, I’m getting outta here before you take any more of my cash” under the carpet when just stringing together a bunch of cherry-picked case studies.
    I see you are also commenting about Ralph Moss and his Moss Reports.
    Have you even seen a Moss Report? (I have and I’ve had them reviewed by a doctor
    who commented on the fact that they were very well researched) I’ve looked at a sample and am less-than-impressed. I dare say you could have them reviewed by a doctor who would tell you that they were “well-researched” if you pestered them enough.

  • michaelgrayer

    Thankyou, Anon, who is in fact the same “Anon” who commented previously (4th August 2009).

    It’s another sorry mish-mash of half-truths, non-sequiturs, obfuscation and utter nonsense that, again, it’s barely worth responding to. However, being the good sport I am, I have responded to the “points” you raise by annotating the comment itself in bold.

    Not that any of the “points” are particularly relevant. I’m talking about laetrile here as promoted on the “world without cancer” website, and particularly, Krashen’s article written at the start of this year. You seem to want to fudge the issue and blur the boundaries by spouting off about Moss Reports, the Oasis of Hope hospital, Quackwatch, and so on. Please try to keep the discussion in context. Thanks.

  • Anon

    As for the references :-
    For further information please read the book
    Death Of Cancer Manner et al.
    Enzymes Fountain of Life Lopez etc. etc.
    James Cason Things Remembered.
    http://users.navi.net/~rsc/cancer/
    The Unitarian or Trophoblastic Thesis of Cancer by Ernst T. Krebs, Jr., Ernst T. Krebs, Sr. and Howard H. Beard
    THE ENZYME TREATMENT OF CANCER AND ITS SCIENTIFIC BASIS by JOHN BEARD, D.Sc.

  • michaelgrayer

    As I said in the original article:

    references should be presented clearly so that they are easy to follow, refer to peer-reviewed research that can be found in academic library collections, and be an accurate representation of the wider body of scientific research.

    They should also be used to support specific claims made in the main body of the text. Referencing is about more than just a “further reading” list. If you’re supplying a list of further reading, that’s fine, but don’t call it “References”.

  • HA.A.R.P

    The problem is NO TRIALS ARE BEING DONE! The trials that were done 30 years ago used stupidly low amounts of B17! You have two choices – sit around and wait for some government regulation agency to knock on your door and finally say ” we cured it! ” or you can try this stuff yourself at your own risk(and low low cost, $30 for 1kg seeds… my god). Me personally I hate Marxism, so the FDA can go do one, we know where their loyalty lies.

    State regulation, of course it leads to corruption. It’s lead to a small group of corporations cornering the market.

  • HA.A.R.P

    It just amazes me how the pro-b17 community are using it themselves, trying to figure out its uses while the ‘debunkers’ are saying no it does nothing based on old old studies that are questionably flawed, as said above, no experimentation was done on quantity. But because that’s all that’s been done by the supposed scientific community that’s what the whole debunking thing is based on. So please, more studies that are not biased and use the right amount of B17 that a Human Being would require when fighting a serious illness like Cancer.

  • John

    The Siamese National Anthem referred to above was written in celebration of the way in which the country’s reputation for sport was boosted by its most famous sportsman, James Wattana. Please spell his name correctly.

  • Dan

    My friends girlfriend had three terminal cancers, one the size of a melon in her stomach, one in her chest, and one tennis ball sized tumor in her brain.

    The doctor said she was terminal as the cancer had gone blood born also and gave her only a few weeks to live, I remember visiting my friend to see that his girlfriend had oxygen tanks in the hall and was prescribed medical marijuana.

    She told me how she had tried everything and had decided to start eating the husks of apricot, now several years later she is alive and well!.

    I have lost two uncles and a cousin from cancer and like my friends girlfriend they tried everything, but they didn’t try apricot husks which contain laetrile (B17).

    Now I’m sure your logic is very reasonable, but my life experience however demonstrates that the only difference between those who survived cancer and those who did not was the introduction of large quantities of apricot husks in to the diet.

    It is also worth noting that biochemists and doctors livelihoods entirely depend on the prescription of treatment and drugs ergo websites and individuals peddling any cure for cancer represent the enemy to institutions who are founded to promote good health!, this is the risk that comes with the institutionalization of any industry.

    Therefore I would urge anyone seeking any treatment for cancer to look only at the statistics and especially ‘HOW THEY WHERE GATHERED’, in many laetrile studies the drug was administered while the patient had only days left to live and only after radiotherapy and chemotherapy, instead of being administered at a time when the patient had recovered from these treatments and had weeks left to life.

    The consequence of these statistics lends heavily in the favor of an industry that whole depends on the existence of cancer in order to make gains for the dispensing of treatment that doesn’t provide an actual cure as a result of industrialization.

    I do not make any money from medicine or any money from laetrile, I write scripts and study physics.

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