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Vitamin B17 therapy - does it work?

Some people are not interested in 'anecdotes' but want 'scientific proof'. Other people are much more encouraged to hear real life 'testimonies' rather than the results of clinical tests carried out in laboratories with 'arbitrary parameters' and bearing in mind that "there is no proof that spontaneous human cancer and experimental laboratory cancer are identical."1 (see Endnotes)

So, firstly here are some statistics and mention of studies on vitamin B17. Secondly, how does orthodox cancer therapy compare? Thirdly - does vitamin B17 work in real life? This last section is subdivided to cover those groups of people who have vitamin B17 naturally in their diet and are cancer-free, and then indicates where success stories from individual cancer sufferers can be found.

Does vitamin B17 work in the laboratory?2

In the 1953 California Report researchers used doses of laetrile significantly below those used currently and laetrile was reported in the summary to be a failure.3 But even in this unsatisfactory trial, the report had to admit "All of the physicians whose patients were reviewed spoke of increase in the sense of well-being and appetite, gain in weight, and decrease in pain ..." 4

For five years, between 1972 and 1977 laetrile was meticulously tested at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in Manhattan under the direction of Dr. Sugiura. At the conclusion of his experiment he reported five results:

  1. laetrile stopped metastasis (the spreading of cancer) in mice
  2. it improved their general health
  3. it inhibited the growth of small tumours
  4. it provided relief from pain
  5. it acted as a cancer prevention.

Two other bio-chemists at Sloan-Kettering had duplicated Sugiura's experiments and had obtained essentially the same positive results. One was Dr Elizabeth Stockert and another was Dr Lloyd Schloen. Schloen had gone so far as to add proteolytic enzymes to the injections - as is commonly done by laetrile doctors - and reported a 100% cure rate among his Swiss albino mice. 5

These findings did not please the board of Sloan-Kettering whose interest was in finding a drug cure for cancer. No money could be made if the answer was to be found in food enzymes and vitamins. They ordered re-trial after retrial, altering parameters until they could say "laetrile doesn't work". The full story can be read in World Without Cancer6 or found on the website or in the book Cancer, Why we're still dying to know the truth. 7 However, it is interesting that when the minutes of a high-level private meeting at Sloan-Kettering on July 2, 1974 were obtained several years later under the Freedom-of-Information Act, they showed that even then, numerous Sloan-Kettering officials were convinced of the effectiveness of Laetrile, although there remained some question about the extent of that effectiveness. Then the minutes read: "Sloan-Kettering is not enthusiastic about studying amygdalin (laetrile) but would like to study CN (cyanide)-releasing drugs." 8

Ross Pelton, R.Ph, PhD, and Lee Overholder PhD in Alternatives in Cancer Therapy (Simon & Schuster, New York 1994), quote the following laboratory studies:

  • In a study sponsored by the McNaughton Foundation in San Ysidro, California, laetrile was injected into laboratory animals in dosages of 500mg/kg. The mean survival time of the laetrile treated animals was 70% longer than that of the controls. This research was reported at Senate subcommittee hearing on laetrile in July 1977.
  • Studies conducted at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, using a mouse model with adenocarcinoma, showed that laetrile-treated mice survived over twice as long as the control mice.
  • In 1977 Dr Harold W. Manner released remarkable laetrile research he had conducted at Loyola University in Chicago. In a study with 84 mice, 75 underwent complete regression of mammary tumours, and the other nine showed partial regression.

How does orthodox cancer therapy compare?

Dr Philip E. Binzel published a book9 in 1994 on his 'experience with nutrition in the treatment of cancer patients'. He started using laetrile and other nutritional therapies in the mid 1970's in his Family Practice in a town in Ohio, U.S.A. After his retirement he went through his records from 1974 to the end of 1991. All the patients he included in his statistics were diagnosed by physicians other than himself and their diagnoses were confirmed by pathology reports. He then compared his results to those of the American Cancer Society.10

Of the 180 in his study who had primary cancer (cancer in one site), over a period of 18 years 87.3% of them did not die from cancer. The American Cancer Society tells us that in primary cancer, with early diagnosis and early treatment with surgery, and/or radiation and/or chemotherapy, 85% of the patients will die from their disease within five years.

Of the 108 patients with metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread), over a period of 18 years, 70.4% of those patients did not die of cancer. The American Cancer Society tells us that in metastatic cancer with early diagnosis and treatment, only 0.1% of those patients will survive 5 years. 21 case studies can be found in Dr Binzel's book, along with the nutritional therapy he used.11

Griffin in his book World Without Cancer summarises the work of three doctors - Dr John Richardson of San Francisco whom he quotes as having achieved one of the highest recovery rates among Laetrile practitioners in the entire world, Dr Philip Binzel (mentioned above), and Dr Ernesto Contreras who founded a cancer clinic in Mexico and with his son Dr Fransisco Contreras has treated thousands of cancer patients with laetrile and nutritional therapy. Griffin states that both Binzel and Richardson report a survival rate for primary cancer sufferers of 85%. Contreras does not figure in the primary cancer reporting, probably because people going to the cancer clinics in Mexico often only do so after orthodox treatment has failed and the orthodox medical profession can do no more for them - only then have they turned to alternative treatment. This would also explain why Griffin reports a lower average survival rate for metastatic cancer from the three doctors than Binzel's figures mentioned above. But this average figure of survival after using vitamin B17 therapy is still 150 times better than the survival rate when using orthodox therapy. This is truly amazing.12

If patients started vitamin B17 and nutritional therapy when first diagnosed, and did not have chemotherapy or radiotherapy then Dr Krebs claimed a 98% success rate. The Del Rio Hospital of Tijuana claims a nearly 100% success rate with virgin cases, i.e. with those who have not had chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Statistics on chemotherapy

During his ten years as a statistician, Dr Ulrich Abel discovered that the method used for treating the most commonly occurring epithelial cancers (lung, breast, prostate, colon and other organs) has rarely been successful. Abel published a summary of the results of chemotherapy, Chemotherapy for Advanced Epithelial Cancer, in 1990.13 Some of the findings Dr Abel published are:

  • Colon and rectal cancer: There is no evidence at all that chemotherapy prolongs the life of patients
  • Stomach cancer: There is no evidence of effectiveness.
  • Pancreatic cancer: The largest study was "completely negative". The patients who experienced prolonged life were those who did not receive chemotherapy.
  • Bladder cancer: Chemotherapy is often applied but is not effective. No prospective study has been made.
  • Breast cancer: There is no evidence that chemotherapy raises the chance for a patient's survival. Its use is "ethically questionable".
  • Ovarian cancer: There is no direct evidence, but it might be worthwhile to research the use of platinum.
  • Uterine and cervical cancer: There was no improvement in the survival rate of those treated with chemotherapy.
  • Cancer of the head and neck: There was no benefit to receiving chemotherapy in terms of survival. There was the occasional benefit of reduction of tumour size.

Oasis of Hope Hospital uses chemotherapy, if appropriate

Dr Francisco Contreras, M.D. is a highly trained cancer expert, who specialised in surgical oncology at the prestigious First University in Vienna, Austria. He heads up the Oasis of Hope Hospital in Mexico where conventional chemotherapy is offered as well as nutritional therapies, if it is deemed appropriate. Contreras says "There is a time and a place for everything, including chemotherapy. I have seen chemotherapy benefit a patient, especially low-dose chemotherapy that is delivered directly to the tumour. Such is not always the case, however, and many of my patients can testify that the chemotherapy seems worse than the disease." He goes on to say "Oncologists realize that chemotherapy is the most toxic and least effective treatment. However, since something must be done for the patient, frustration often makes chemotherapy seem like the only option. So the therapists continue to rely on this destructive treatment, which borders on the sadistic." (The Hope of Living Cancer Free, p116ff).

Dramatically superior results at the Oasis of Hope Hospital

Since 1963, 100,000 patients have been treated at the Oasis of Hope Hospital, including currently over 600 cancer patients a year. In 1981 they conducted a retrospective study to document the five-year survival rate of their cancer patients. It is important to note that 95% of these patients came to them with stage IV cancers after conventional therapy had failed to help them. They had been sent home to die.

Malignancies in the lung, breast, colon and prostate are the most prevalent, so they designed a study on the efficacy of the metabolic therapy on these advanced stage IV cancers, with the following results:

Type of cancer Number of patients 5 year survival rate (%)
Oasis Conventional*
Lung cancer 200 30% 2%
Breast cancer 130 39% 21%
Colon cancer 150 30% 8%
Prostate cancer 600 86% 33%
* Source: American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2001

The Oasis group patients had already undergone surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. They had endured the hair loss, nausea, burns and devastation of their energy levels and immune systems. Those in the conventional group had no previous treatment to damage their general condition. They had a fresh start. We can only speculate on the better results the Oasis Hospital could achieve with patients who would avoid conventional therapy before they arrive for metabolic therapy. (The Coming Cancer Cure, p 105)

The ongoing research into the nature and characteristics of cancer is helping them develop specialised treatments for each patient, utilising conventional and alternative methods to promote their return to health. They oversee the treatment of over 600 cancer patients every year in the Oasis of Hope Hospital where they have the latest equipment, but also treat the whole person and include laughter and prayer in the whole programme.

How is success against cancer measured?

Is it the length of life? The quality of life? The feeling of well-being and absence of pain? The ability to function normally on a daily basis? All of these are the criteria used by doctors who apply nutritional therapy. They are not concerned with the size of a tumour because they know most tumours are a mixture of malignant and benign cells. Orthodox medicine, on the other hand, is totally focussed on the tumour (in cancers where tumours are formed). A living and healthy patient with a tumour reduced by only 15% but stable would be classified as a failure, whereas a sick and dying patient with a tumour reduced 60% would be a success.14

Is vitamin B17 toxic?

(This is a common lie told about this vitamin). Some tests of laetrile have not been to show its efficacy, but to test its toxicity. Vitamin B17 is also known as amygdalin (it was originally extracted from the bitter almond - Latin amygdala). The non-toxicity of amygdalin has been a well-known, fully accepted and non-controversial fact for over one hundred years. Otto Jacobsen in his book Die Glucoside in 1887 stated "Amygdalin is not toxic" and gave 99 references from studies made within the 20 years prior to his publication.15 For over 100 years Pharmacology reference books have described this substance as non-toxic. When taken in huge quantities any substance can be toxic, but laetrile is even less toxic than sugar.16 So to question the use of vitamin B17 on the grounds of toxicity is extraordinary as all the drugs used currently in orthodox cancer therapy are extremely toxic.

Does vitamin B17 work in real life?

a) For groups of people

The Hunzas in the remote Himalayas, the Eskimos, tribes of South Africa and South America living on native foods, the North American Indians, the Australian aborigines, and other native or so-called primitive peoples rely upon a diet carrying as much as 250 to 3,000mg of nitriloside (i.e. vitamin B17) in a daily ration. All populations living close to a Neolithic level appear to have a diet with a high consumption of nitriloside-rich foods. Among such people there is rarely a case of cancer. But once these peoples abandon their traditional diet and begin to eat westernised foods then they are prone to cancer.17

Civilised or Westernised man, on the other hand, relies on a diet that probably provides an average of less than 2mg of nitriloside (vitamin B17) a day and as a dietary group is increasingly prone to cancer.

b) For individuals

Edward Griffin in his book World Without Cancer gives eight detailed case-studies of patients who took laetrile and recovered from cancer in the 1960s and 1970s (p119ff). Dr Binzel in his book Alive and Well cites twenty-one cases from 1970s up to 1992 (p114ff).

Jason Vale, himself a cancer survivor, kept a journal on the internet at of testimonies of many people he had helped. Testimonies from this journal in 1997 and early 1998 can also be found in Phillip Day's book Cancer, Why we're still dying to know the truth.18

Ross Pelton, R.Ph, PhD, and Lee Overholder PhD (Alternatives in Cancer Therapy) report on a clinical trial which was conducted by the Mayo Clinic for the National Cancer Institute (US) , published in 1982, which claimed laetrile was ineffective as a treatment for cancer. In an effort to ensure a proper trial, one of the clinics using laetrile offered to provide free laetrile of known quality for the study. This offer was refused. Dr James Cason of the University of California reportedly tested the substance used in the NCI study and found that it did not contain any amygdalin.

W. John Diamond, M.D. and W. Lee Cowden, M.D. in Cancer Diagnosis - What to do next, (Alternative, Tiburon, 2000) tell of the successes of the metabolic therapies at American Biologics Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico where diet, amygdalin (laetrile) and nutritional supplements are emphasized together with detoxification and embryonic live-cell therapy. In 1987 the hospital presented an overview of its first 5,000 cancer cases to the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress. Among these cases, of which more than 90% were supposedly terminal, ABH achieved a five-year survival rate of about 20% with few or no symptoms reported by the patients.

The success of Dr Binzel in his general practice in the US has already been mentioned, as has the success of Dr Contreras at the Oasis of Hope Hospital, Mexico. (see above)

Felicity Corbin Wheeler lost a daughter to cancer before she herself was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and given no more than 6 months to live. She was offered no conventional treatment. She treated herself with injections of laetrile and ate apricot kernels and within a year her cancer had disappeared. See her book God's Healing Word (Book Publishing World 2006).

Endnotes - References

  1. Howell, Dr Edward Enzyme Nutrition (Avery Publishing, New Jersey 1985)
  2. For the science behind how vitamin B17 works, see separate notes Cancer Prevention - "A Change In Our Diet"
  3. In 1953 the typical dose given was 50mg per injection, with maximum accumulative dose of 2000mg over 12 injections. Currently, over the first 21 days 6000 -9000mg is given daily often needing an accumulation of 50,000-70,000mg over a period of a week to 10days before tangible indications of improvement are seen. Griffin, G. Edward World Without Cancer (American Media, California 1997, 1994) p33
  4. Griffin World Without Cancer p33
  5. Griffin World Without Cancer p43
  6. Griffin World Without Cancer p37ff
  7. Phillip Day Cancer, Why we're still dying to know the truth (Credence Publications, Tonbridge 1999) p43ff
  8. Griffin World Without Cancer p51
  9. Binzel, Philip E. Alive and Well (American Media, California 1994)
  10. Binzel Alive and Well p107ff gives fuller information about parameters
  11. Binzel Alive and Well nutrition program p98, case studies p114
  12. From Griffin World Without Cancer p169
  13. Anonymous "The chemo's Berlin wall crumbles", Cancer Chronicles (December 1990) quoted in Francisco Contreras The Hope of Living Cancer Free (Siloam, Florida 1999) p119
  14. Griffin World Without Cancer p39
  16. Griffin World Without Cancer p103
  17. Griffin World Without Cancer p63ff
  18. Phillip Day Cancer, Why we're still dying to know the truth (Credence Publications, Tonbridge 1999)
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