Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Archive for July, 2017

‘Vitamin B17’ and other fake Cancer Cures

Posted by butalidnl on 5 July 2017

I recently noted a link on Facebook to an article that claims that cancer is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin B17. B17? The B- vitamins only reached B12. ‘Vitamin B17’ was a term made up in order to get around US Food and Drug Authority (FDA) drug regulations. ‘Vitamin B17’ or ‘Laetrile’ are just another name for Amygdalin, which is extracted from amandels, or appple and apricot fruit cores. Amygdalin is claimed to be more effective than chemotheraphy drugs; but this is because it produces cyanide, a poison which also kills cancer cells.

The article posted on Facebook claimed that cancer was caused by a lack of ‘Vtamin B17’; and that taking it will cure all kinds of cancer; and that the pharmaceutical industry has suppressed this information in order to continue earning billions of dollars in income.

While there is something to be said about how pharmaceutical companies often make scandalous incomes from overpricing their products, the Vitamin B17 lobby’s claim that big pharma has been deceiving all of us for the past 81 years is too fantastic to be true.
In 1982, the US National Cancer Institute conducted a human drug trial on ‘ Vitamin B17’ and concluded that there is “no substantive benefit … observed in terms of cure, improvement or stabilization of cancer, improvement of symptoms related to cancer, or extension of lifespan” from the use of amygdalin.

The ‘Vitamin 17’ hoax which went viral in Facebook is only one of several claimed cancer cures going around. Another claim involves the cancer-killing properties of the Guyabano fruit.

I understand the attraction of such claims. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one could keep cancer at bay, or even cure it, simply by eating certain foods? Unfortunately, this is not so. We are not yet at a stage where there is an actual cure for any of the various kinds of cancer.  Maybe this is because cancer has multiple causes, which interact in various ways.
Claims of various food cures for cancer are false; at most, they may alleviate the symptoms of cancer.

All we now have are various treatments for cancer.  These treatments usually involve surgically removing the cancerous tissue, and subjecting the body to radiation, chemotheraphy or hormonal treatments to prevent the cancer from taking root elsewhere in the body. These treatments often come with rather unpleasant side-effects. Many people don’t have cancer anymore as a result of these treatments.
A true cure would be something less invasive, does minimum damage to healthy tissue, and which would work almost all the time.  This has not yet been found.

Science has not yet found a cure for diabetes, or Alzheimers, or a lot of other ailments either. But so far, ways have been found to alleviate symptoms and extend the lifespan of patients.

The lack of a cure is being exploited by many people who claim that they do have a cure.  Faith healers claim to be able to cure cancer. We also have many who claim cancer cures on the internet, and which go viral on Facebook and other social media sites. While they may be mere curiosities for most people, some people may really believe in them.
And this is the danger: people who reject medical treatments and opt for faith healers or other claimed cancer cures.  These people inevitably die from cancer.  I understand that there are people who choose other cures because they do not have the money to pay the medical expenses; but there are those who could otherwise have afforded the medical route but chose other ‘cures’ instead, and died.
The tragedy of the ‘Vitamin B17’ story is that while its advocates accuse the pharmaceutical industry of making money from cancer, they make a profit from selling ‘laetrile’ on false claims that it cures cancer.

For anybody who casually shares a Facebook link to a ‘sure cure for cancer’ , thinking that there is no harm done; there is real harm done by these posts taken together. Some people could very well choose to reject medical treatment because of them; and inadvertently choose an early death.
Stop these ‘shares’  or ‘retweets’ of fake cancer cures, they actually kill people!

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