So, let’s settle these rumors once and for all of this miracle vitamin that has allegedly been ‘curing’ cancer for years. To understand this article properly we must take into consideration the following things-
Also known by the name Amygdalin, this vitamin was ‘discovered’ in the 50’s and given the name Laetrile by Ernst Krebs, Jr. who claimed that this miraculous substance could not only prevent the occurrence of cancer but also cure those who have the fatal disease. It is said to be extracted from kernels of apricots.
It became famous in the 1970s when a physician was accused of using the substance to treat cancer with no medical evidence of previous trails or any reason to use it. Following this, the manufacturers of this drug went on to brand laetrile as a vitamin- evidently failing to understand what classifies a substance as a vitamin.
On top of this, while all these names are used assuming one is talking about the same product, it turns out that the chemical composition of Laetrile manufactured in the United States of America is different from the ‘amygdalin’ that is produced in Mexico.
What is a Vitamin?
A vitamin is a substance that is present in food sources in small amounts that are essential for the physiological functions of the body including growth and development- deficiency of these vitamins have characteristic identifiable symptoms in the body. They can be classified as water soluble or fat soluble- neither of which amygdalin fits into.
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What is Cancer?
Cancer is a condition in our body when the cells start multiplying rapidly and out of control. They start overcrowding and destroy the normal cells around them. Through different connective tissues, cancer spreads to different parts of the body as well thus making treatment difficult.
Years and years of thorough clinical research have been able to give us a lot of accurate insights about this deadly disease but no evidence whatsoever has been shed in the direction of a nutritional deficiency causing cancer. Moreover, cancer is of many types and occurs in various organs and systems thus entirely disproving any claim that is made stating that the cause is as simple as that.
Starting from the name Laetrile to it being recognized as a vitamin, it has achieved approval for neither of these qualities. The whole fad is based on little evidence that some studies have shown that some animals showed some results that this substance could be anti-cancerous.
But that is not the worst part. Laetrile was called a vitamin so that the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (the FDA) would sanction the approval of the drug in the market so it could then be popularised worldwide. Which did not happen- proving that Vitamin B17 is in fact NOT a vitamin?
Studies have shown that ingestion of this substance can, in fact, cause metabolism in the body in such a manner that Cyanide is released in the body and the person can undergo cyanide poisoning- which is a sure pass to fatality.
Further evidence that proved the fallacies in Laetrile is the fact that no one explanation as to how it exactly cures cancer has actually been proven or made sense of-
Initially, it was claimed that because cancerous cells have imbalances in enzymes when compared with non-malignant cells, Laetrile could destroy the former easily and hence cure cancer. When this was proved wrong, the first enzyme was replaced by another and the same theory was posed.
It got more interesting when they then went on to claim that Cancer is caused due to vitamin deficiencies in the body and that this missing vitamin was the ultimate link to complete well-being. The claim was then made that when the cyanide released destroyed the cells, these cells then released the suicide enzyme known as lysosomes which killed away from the malignant cells.
Why is it of High Concern to the Society?
From as far as we can think back, there has always been someone claiming to ‘cure’ incurable diseases using non-scientific and baseless alternative forms of medicine that attracts crowds of people who are gullible and ill-informed- and on top of that tempted by the false reassurances of cures and comforts that are offered to them which when compared to the higher priced legitimate treatments that are well-known for their painful and uncomfortable course. Ultimately what happens is
- The patients are given false hopes of an extremely rare good prognosis which might have been an actual albeit highly remote possibility had proper chemotherapy or radiation is used. The false hopes of prolonged life deviate the dying people from their responsibilities and don’t allow the family to prepare themselves either.
- The side effects of chemotherapy are highlighted as a bad and unnecessary complication that can be avoided if this simple treatment is used instead.
- Such treatments can be adding toxicity to the body as well.
Laetrile claims to cure cancer, enhance other cures for cancer, reduce the pain experienced by cancer patients. Apart from this other blood diseases such as Sickle Cell Anaemia, some infections, lower the raised blood pressure levels and even cure autoimmune diseases such as arthritis. This wastes the time of the people who are suffering from these conditions who fall for these claims and do not get proper and much-needed treatments on time which can even prove fatal to them.
Such fads are an insult to decades of proper researchers that have been meticulously conducted and hence must be never encouraged.
Thus this shows that when any claim has been made that seems too good to be true- it probably is and thus extensive research must be done using reliable information and one must always have their wits about and try to be so well informed that they can easily recognize fads apart from facts and make proper use of the latter.
The source of such information and the reliability of such sources must be verified so that we can remain vigilant. I hope that you will understand vitamin b17 and their benefits and loss.