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Laetrile and the Life Saving Substance Called Cyanide

by Philip Binzel, Jr., M.D.

A doctor from the U.S. FDA once said that Laetrile contains "free" hydrogen cyanide and, thus, is toxic. I would like to correct that misconception:

There is no "free" hydrogen cyanide in Laetrile. When Laetrile comes in contact with the enzyme beta-glucosidase, the Laetrile is broken down to form two molecules of glucose, one molecule of benzaldehyde and one molecule of hydrogen cyanide (HCN). Within the body, the cancer cell-and only the cancer cell-contains that enzyme. The key word here is that the HCN must be FORMED. It is not floating around freely in the Laetrile and then released. It must be manufactured. The enzyme beta glucosidase, and only that enzyme, is capable of manufacturing the HCN from Laetrile. If there are no cancer cells in the body, there is no beta-glucosidase. If there is no beta-glucosidase, no HCN will be formed from the Laetrile (1).

Laetrile does contain the cyanide radical (CN). This same cyanide radical is contained in Vitamin B12, and in berries such as blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. You never hear of anyone getting cyanide poisoning from 12 or any of the above-mentioned berries, because they do not. The cyanide radical (CW) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) are two completely different compounds, just as pure sodium (Na+) - one of the most toxic substances known to mankind - and sodium chloride (NaCl), which is table salt, are two completely different compounds.

If the above is true, how did the story ever get started that Laetrile contains "free" hydrogen cyanide? It was the Food and Drug Administration.

1. For a more detailed analysis of the theoretical action of Laetrile against cancer cells, see G. Edward Griffin, World Without Cancer (Thousand Oaks, CA: American Media, 1974).

I remember reading in some newspaper back in the late 1960's or early 1970's a news release from the FDA. This release stated that there were some proponents of a substance known as "Laetrile" (I'd never heard of it before) who were saying that this substance was capable of forming hydrogen cyanide in the presence of the cancer cell. The release continued by saying that, if this were actually true, we had, indeed, found a substance, which was target-specific, and would be of great value to the cancer patient. But, the news release went on to say, the FDA had done extensive testing of this substance, "Laetrile," and found no evidence that it contained hydrogen cyanide or that any hydrogen cyanide was released in the presence of the cancer cell. Thus, they said, Laetrile was of no value.

When it was clearly established some time later that Laetrile did, indeed, release hydrogen cyanide in the presence of the cancer cell, how do you suppose the FDA reacted? Did they admit that they were wrong? Did they admit that they had done a very inadequate job in running their tests? No! They now proclaimed that Laetrile contained hydrogen cyanide and thus was toxic!

So, here is a bureau of the Federal Government which, a short time before, had said that the reason Laetrile did not work was because it did not release hydrogen cyanide in the presence of cancer cells. Now, when they find that it does, they say that it is toxic. When offered an opportunity to present evidence of Laetrile's toxicity in Federal Court, they admitted that they had none.


Graphic on Action of Laetrile in Cancer
(A graphic representation of the chemistry of Nitrilosides in Cancer)

The founder of I.G. Farbin, Co., Leibig, discovered amygdalin in 1822. I.G. Farbin is a huge cartel containing some 2000 other cartels. Krebs discovered L-Mandelonitrile-beta-glucoside in 1922 (extrinsic). Beard sited role of trophoblast in British medical magazine Lancet and in 1904 and discussed intrinsic factor chymotrypsin. It was Dr. Ernest T. Krebs, Jr. who discovered the role of Nitrilosides, the extrensic factor, shown below:


Though it has limitations in certain cancers, vitamin B17 may be extremely effective in the most common tumours such as carcinoma of the lung, breast, prostate, colon, and lymphomas. A highly publicised clinical trial conducted by the National Cancer Institute in 1981 tried unsuccessfully to prove Laetrile ineffective and toxic. Today, Laetrile occupies a position on the "front lines" of alternative cancer therapy. "We have found Laetrile to be effective in people that have active cancer", says Dr. Contreras "but that is not its only function, for the prevention of cancer and the maintenance of remission there is nothing as effective as Laetrile. Its non-toxicity permits its use indefinitely in the prevention of relapses and the prevention of metastases. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can only be administered for a limited time, afterward patients are left without any protection".


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