Denise from Lane Cove, New South Wales, Australia asked:

Can eating apricot kernels cure cancer?

Can eating apricot kernels cure cancer?

There is lots of advice on the web indicating that apricot kernels can stop cancer spreading and even cure it. Is this true?

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Our answer

Some people claim that a chemical found in apricot kernels, known as amygdalin, can cure cancer. The chemical is also marketed in a slightly modified form as ‘Laetrile’. Laetrile is commonly touted as an alternative treatment for cancer, but there is no evidence that it actually works. Despite decades of research, dating back to the 1950s, there is no evidence that Laetrile can treat tumours in animals. Clinical trials in humans have also failed to find any benefits. Proponents of Laetrile claim that cancer is a vitamin deficit and that Laetrile, sometimes known as vitamin B17, helps to fix that deficit. However, Laetrile is not a vitamin and it is not essential for good health. Laetrile proponents also claim that it releases cyanide in the body, which kills cancer cells while leaving normal ones unharmed. It is true that Laetrile can be converted into cyanide in the body, but it is not true that normal cells are unharmed. In fact, there have been several cases of cyanide poisoning, and even death, linked to Laetrile treatment. Unfortunately, taking Laetrile, or eating apricot kernels in large amounts, is not only ineffective at treating cancer but could also be very dangerous. The sale of raw apricot kernels was prohibited in Australia and New Zealand from December 2015.

This page was last updated on: January 13, 2016
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