Advocates of vitamin B17 claim benefits such as tumor shrinkage, cancer remission, cancer-related pain relief, lower blood pressure and arthritis relief, according to the American Cancer Society. However, scientific evidence does not support the proposed benefits of vitamin B17. The substance is toxic and remains controversial, as of 2015.
Vitamin B17, also known as Laetrile or amygdalin, is commonly derived from the kernels of apricot pits. Vitamin B17 becomes cyanide in the body. According to the American Cancer Society, supporters believe this chemical process occurs inside of tumors. For this reason, supporters claim cancer cells die of cyanide poisoning while normal cells stay healthy. According to WebMD, this is false. Vitamin B17 turns into cyanide in the stomach where it is absorbed and travels throughout the body, therefore, any person who consumes vitamin B17 risks cyanide poisoning, which can be fatal.
Scientists studied the effects of vitamin B17 on cancer in animals and humans several times between the 1950s and 1980s, most famously by the National Cancer Institute in 1975. Results did not support advocates’ claims. Due to a lack of scientific evidence supporting its benefits and the risk of poisoning, the Federal Drug Administration placed sanctions against the sale of Laetrile/vitamin B17 in the United States in 1977.