‘Vitamin B17’ Can Cure Cancer, Pharma Conspiring Against It: Fact Check

Picture Suggesting 'Vitamin B17' Can Cure Cancer, Pharma Conspiring Against It
'Vitamin B17' Can Cure Cancer, Pharma Conspiring Against It


Vitamin B17 Can Cure Cancer
PHARMA is conspiring against this cure

Other Versions

Cancer is Deficiency of Vitamin B17

Fact Check:

Various health stories appearing online since decades claim that Cancer is nothing but Deficiency of a rare Vitamin B17 and supplying the body with same can cure Cancer. It is also said that Pharma companies and US Government have been hiding and conspiring against this simple cure for Cancer with Vitamin B17 and equivalent supplement drug called Laetrile. No, like detailed below, the claims as such are not facts.

Use of Amygdalin and Laetrile for Cancer

Amygdalin is a cyanogenic glycoside found in many plants like Lima beans, Clover and Sorghum; it is mostly available in the seeds of Apricot, Apple, Bitter Almonds, Peach and Plum. Laetrile is a modified (synthetic) form of Amygdalin. Both of them have been promoted as alternative cancer treatments since many decades – often using the misnomer Vitamin B17.

B-17 Not a Vitamin

Ernst Theodore Krebs, Jr. is the one who promoted Amygdalin in a modified form called Laetrile as a cancer cure. He even called it as “Vitamin B17” with a theory claiming cancer is caused by a deficiency of vitamin B17, which as a matter of fact is also not a vitamin. On the contrary, Laetrile was linked to risk of side effects from cyanide poisoning inside our body (explained later in this article). Laetrile (‘Vitamin B17,’ i.e. modified form of Amygdalina) also has other names like Mandelonitrile beta D gentiobioside, Mandelonitrile beta glucuronide, Laevorotatory, Purasin and Nitriloside.

Effectiveness in Cancer

Some chemical compounds in naturally occurring fruits in fact have the ability to fight certain kinds of cancers. Note, Cancer as such is a group of complex diseases. So it is unlikely, there will be one simple cure to all kinds. A study published in 1982 examined 178 patients with cancer who were treated with Amygdalin (Laetrile) along with a “metabolic therapy” program consisting of diet, enzymes, and vitamins, one third of whom did not receive any previous chemotherapy. Laetrile or Amygdalin did not show any substantive benefit in terms of cure, improvement or stabilization of cancer, or extension of life span.

Moreover, as side effects of the amygdalin therapy, symptoms of cyanide toxicity were evidenced in several patients whose blood cyanide levels approached the lethal range. The risk of cyanide poisoning after laetrile or amygdalin use is especially attributed to happen in case of oral intake. Few other studies have however shown Laetrile has little anticancer effect. The main anticancer compound is thought to be Hydrogen cyanide, allegedly formed from laetrile when broken down in the body.


Most websites or magazines promoting Laetrile, Amygdalin or ‘Vitamin B17’ as cancer cure do not give anecdotal evidence. Moreover, some mention laboratory tests done only in labs and animals; few tests done in humans did not show consistent results in treatment. Note, most of the promotional websites carry disclaimers like the alternate medicine suggestion should not be taken as a medical advice, and that you should be under the care of appropriate medical professionals, including oncologists. As of 1984, Laetrile has been an unproven remedy for cancer treatment.

The Food and Drugs Agency (FDA) in the United States and the European Commission did not approve Laetrile because of its lack of effectiveness in cancer treatment and the risk of side effects from cyanide poisoning. Scientific literature described the promotion of laetrile (termed as ‘Vitamin B17’) to treat cancer as a canonical example of quackery. Therefore, the claims that Cancer is the deficiency of a rare Vitamin B17 (which is not a vitamin) and supplementing the body with it can cure the same are hoaxes.

Hoax or Fact:



Laetrile (amygdalin, vitamin B17) | Cancer Research UK
Laetrile treatment for cancer | Cochrane

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Prashanth Damarla