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From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: A Question for the ALT crowd, if they can drop into the real world 
	for a minute
Date: 26 Apr 1999 03:21:36 GMT

In <7g0e2p$2fu$> "John Garzillo"
<> writes:

>Victoria Dragon wrote in message <7fu8fh$e8h$>...

>>Chief among these problems and the cause of so many of the other
>>problems is the attitude that so many doctors have. "Me doctor. ugh. Me
>><drum roll> SCIENTIFIC. You not doctor. You not SCIENTIFIC." As I
>>mentioned in my previous post on this, my degree is in engineering. This
>>means that unless a doctor specialized in research, my training in the
>>scientific method, in statistical analysis, in how to recognize
>>well-designed studies and those with major flaws, as well as how to
>>design studies to get exactly the results the researcher wants is far,
>>far superior to most doctors.
>>BTW, there are some indications that Laetrile may work on *some* cancers
>>or be a cancer preventative. Societies that eat a lot of Laetrile rich
>>foods (can't think of the other word for these foods right now) do have
>>significantly lower rates of cancers. One of these foods is almonds.
>>Victoria Dragon

>I can't say I disagree with you aboput physicians over-estimating their
>"science" backgrounds. You are right in many ways. Physicians call
>themselves scientists, but most aren't. But medicine, like engineering,
>is an applied science, using what facts are known, doing the best with
>what is not. Doctors do the best they can with a very young science
>(biology). If the rest would lose their delisions of scientific rigor,
>they would understand their jobs much better.
>Jon Garzillo
>Graduate training: National College of Chiropractic
>Undergraduate: Lehigh University (College of Engineering. Heard of it?)


    Okay, let me try again.  Yes, doctors are more like engineers in
being applied scientists.  And it's also true that biology is a very
young science, and its subject is of unsurpassed complexity.  However,
you must realize that for this very reason, medicine is a more
inductive profession than engineering.  There are fewer things in
medicine than can be calculated from Newtonian mechanics, or even
predicted from the principles of chemistry.  Most of the decisions in
medicine lie in evaluation of evidence from biological studies, and
trying to decide how applicable they are to the particular problem
before you.  That involves Baysian (inductive) reasoning.  It asks
questions like: what does such and such an epidemiologic study,
together with this controlled animal data, imply about the chance that
this treatment will be effective for humans?  Whenver you use that word
"imply" or talk about "evidence" you're talking about induction.
Engineers need to do some of this, also (don't take me wrong) and often
cannot say for certain that a design will work.  However, it's much
more often possible in engineering to prove for certain that a design
will NOT work, unless the laws of physics as we now understand them are
violated (and not arcane physics, either-- I'm talking about stuff like
the conservation of energy and momentum).

   This message is prompted by the exchange exerpted above, in which
"Victoria Draggon" suggests that engineers (as she says her training
was to be) are more scientific than physicians.  Whereupon she goes on
to claim that there are "indications" that Laetrile might prevent some
cancers.  The indications she cites are studie(s) (not cited) which
related cancer rates in different societies to oral Laetrile intake.
But does correlation always imply or give some "indication" of cause
and effect?  If ice cream sales in Chicago correlated with juvenile
arrests through the year (which they do) is that a weak indication that
ice cream eating may cause juvanile deliquency?  Especially when other
explanations (involving average temperature) are better?  Does the fact
that the decline in numbers of nesting storks in Germany correlates
with the decrease in fertility there (which it does) indicate that
storks may bring babies?  Hardly.

   Making inferences in biology requires one to have a sense for
biology and epidemiology, and their limitations.  In order to know how
valuable it is that some drug kills mouse cancer cells in a dish, you
have to know that most such drugs are too toxic for use in animals, and
that it's far easier to kill cancer in mice than humans, even for the
drugs which can be used in animals.  If you don't know these facts
apriori, your reasoning will be poor, because your prior expectations
will be wrong (Bayes' theorum again).

   In order to know who valuable an epidemiologic dietary correlation
is, you need to know that most such correlations across societies are
confounders, and are not due to direct cause and effect relationships.
A well known example is the consumption of dairy products, which
correlates positively with osteoporosis across different societies, but
negatively WITHIN societies (where confounding cultural variables are
fewer).  Combine this with direct experimental evidence that shows in
controlled randomized studies that long term milk consumption improves
calcium balance in post-menopausal women, and you can make an
inferance.  If you look at short term studies of protein consumption in
humans and animals you find that calcium balance becomes negative when
more protein is given.  If you know this, you might make one inferance.
 If you know that other more relevent studies show that calcium balance
*in the long term* stabalizes, even at high protein intakes, you will
make another inferance.

   The problem with Baysian induction in medicine is that it requires
decent prior biological expectation values, and an engineer simply
lacks these.  For example, here we have Victoria arguing that dietary
laetrile might protect against cancer, and suggesting that physicians
are unscientific for not recognizing this as a possibility.  The answer
is that we recognize it as a possibility (it does not violate the laws
of physics or biology, as stork-delivered babies would), but the
problem is that we assign the probability as being too low, based on
present evidence, to be worth any action as a practitioner.  The
epidemiological evidence has far better explanations (perhaps it's the
monounsaturates in nuts, or low carcinogen intake in societies where
many nuts, rather than cooked meats, are eaten, etc).  There are no
case control studies.  This needs to be considered together with the
evidence from direct animal studies of laetrile and cancer, and at
least one good human study, which find as a whole that laetrile is not
known to help or cure cancer in any form, when given in any way.  This
needs to be combined with abundant evidence that "laetrile"
(amygdalin), when eaten, is destroyed in the gut, by enzymes which
cause release of the cyanide, which is how people die from eating
apricot pits.  This interesting fact (which is not argued by anyone)
is a factor in alternative cancer docs telling M.D.s that they are
being stupid and unscientific in their criticisms of the toxicity of
laetrile, inasmuch as laetrile was never meant to be used against
cancer orally, and is only toxic that way.  So goes the theory, and
it's not even the orthodox theory.  So what do we do with this
epidemiologic dietary laetrile intake data, when it is explained better
in so many other ways?   Answer: nothing.  But an engineer is not
equipped to tell you that.  As you see.

                                          Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Leukemia & laetrile (the great Steve B (for bullshit) Harris 
	returns from long pharma junket)
Date: 24 Jul 2000 09:01:22 GMT

In <8lgs5l$ta$> "John"
<> writes:
>Steven B. Harris <> wrote in message
>>    There is a certain irony here in that laetrile enthusiasts in the
>> past have claimed that they've been misunderstood, and that laetrile is
>> really meant to be given by injection, since it is metabolised to
>> cyanide prematurely in the gut when eaten. This appears to be true--
>> laetrile is a good deal safer if not taken by mouth.  But here we are
>> again, 30 years later, with a case of deja vu, and yet another claim
>> for the effects of apricot pit eating.  "John" @whale is certainly an
>> incredible doofus, and one can certainly see why he never dares sign
>> his posts with his full name. Nobody that irreponsible would dare post
>> this kind of thing openly.
>Get a grip Steve baby.  Where have you been, on some long pharma junket?
>All that pharma selling bullshit you fill your head with has addled your
>thinking.  Not that they pick free thinkers to brainwash in the first
>"It has been condemned as a worthless quack remedy by others because they
>were genuinely misinformed or because they were BAREFACED AND DELIBERATE
>LIARS."-Dr Richards & Frank Hourigan.

  Sure, sure.  A part of all quack claims is the claim that there is a
huge conspiracy of liars form all around the world reporting stuff that
doesn't exist.

Ann Emerg Med 1998 Dec;32(6):742-4

Acute cyanide toxicity caused by apricot kernel ingestion.
Suchard JR, Wallace KL, Gerkin RD

Department of Medical Toxicology, Good Samaritan Regional Medical
Center,Phoenix, AZ, USA.

A 41-year-old woman ingested apricot kernels purchased at a
health food store and became weak and dyspneic within 20 minutes.
The patient was comatose and hypothermic on presentation but
responded promptly to antidotal therapy for cyanide poisoning.
She was later treated with a continuous thiosulfate infusion
for persistent metabolic acidosis. This is the first reported
case of cyanide toxicity from apricot kernel ingestion in the
United States since 1979.

PMID: 9832674, UI: 99055485

Am J Clin Nutr 1979 May;32(5):1121-58
Laetrile: the cult of cyanide. Promoting poison for profit.
Herbert V
Publication Types:
PMID: 219680, UI: 79162525


Ann Emerg Med 1983 Jul;12(7):449-51
Acute cyanide poisoning from laetrile ingestion.
Beamer WC, Shealy RM, Prough DS

A case of cyanide poisoning from laetrile ingestion is presented
as an illustration of the recognition and treatment of cyanide
intoxication. The pharmacology of laetrile, of cyanide, and of
antidotes to cyanide intoxication are discussed as they relate to
the acute management and successful treatment of this patient
after this highly lethal ingestion.

PMID: 6881636, UI: 83280902


Pediatrics 1986 Aug;78(2):269-72

Cyanide poisoning from laetrile ingestion: role of nitrite

Hall AH, Linden CH, Kulig KW, Rumack BH

A 4-year-old child ingested laetrile and almost died of cyanide
poisoning. Treatment with the Lilly cyanide antidote kit resulted
in rapid, complete recovery. Extremely high whole blood cyanide
levels were documented. The necessity for use of the antidote kit
in serious cyanide poisoning has recently been questioned. This
case demonstrates benefit from antidotal treatment.

PMID: 2942834, UI: 86286401


JAMA 1978 Apr 14;239(15):1532
Rapid death associated with laetrile ingestion.
Sadoff L, Fuchs K, Hollander J
PMID: 633565, UI: 78133250


J Sch Health 1978 Sep;48(7):409-16
Laetrile--an overview.
Price JH, Price JA

The original theory in the 1920s on the mode of action of
Laetrile is described along with the research that followed in
light of this theory. For over 40 years, studies were conducted,
using test animals, in an attempt to substantiate the theory. All
of these studies have shown Laetrile does not preferentially kill
cancer cells. In spite of these studies, the misconception
persists that Laetrile prevents and cures cancer. The legal and
socioeconomic implications of Laetrile are examined and the role
of health education in combating this problem is explored.

PMID: 250579, UI: 79030831


Ann Intern Med 1978 Sep;89(3):389-97
The current status of laetrile.
Dorr RT, Paxinos J

Amygdalin at various concentrations and with numerous impurities
is the most common cyanogenic glycoside found in laetrile
samples. Its chemical properties were first described in 1837,
and pharmacologic studies have shown that ultimately it is broken
down to HCN, benzaldehyde, and glucose by enzymes found
in gut bacteria but not intracellularly in humans. Fatal and
nonfatal toxicities to orally ingested cyanogenic glycosides have
been reported worldwide. We review here the signs and symptoms of
acute cyanide toxicity and its treatment. Substantial in-vitro
and in-vivo testing in animal tumor systems has shown that
amygdalin is entirely devoid of significant anticancer activity.
Control animals often have lived longer than those treated with
various doses and schedules of amygdalin. Acceptable clinical
studies in humans are lacking, but such ventures would appear to
be contraindicated from animal studies and observed human
toxicities. We also discuss current legal-judicial aspects of
laetrile therapy for cancer.

Publication Types:
  Historical article
PMID: 356691, UI: 78255119

  Note: human studies were done eventually, and no benefit was
found. As with vitamin C, detractors have always found something
wrong with negative studies. As for eating laetrile or apricot pits,
caveat emptor. The apricot no more makes laetrile in its seeds to cure
your cancer than foxglove make digitalis to help your heart.  These
things are made as poisons to animals which may want to eat them. In
the case of laetrile, that's ALL the stuff is.

From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Philip E. Binzel, Jr., M.D. on laetrile toxicity
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 14:37:19 -0700

john wrote in message <9iv3qc$d05$>...
>And they have been saying for years you can't use laetrile due to its
>cyanide content.

No, they've only been saying you can't EAT laetrile, because of its
cyanide content. Injecting it is safe enough, but the issue there
is lack of efficacy, not safety. It's legal for doctors to inject, in
some states. The FDA can do little about this, unless it's sold
across state lines for this purpose.


From: (SteveHarrisMD)
Date: 17 Jul 2001 09:17:09 GMT
Subject: Re: Philip E. Binzel, Jr., M.D. on laetrile toxicity

>From:  (DRCEEPHD)
>Date: Mon, Jul 16, 2001 10:58 PM
>Message-id: <>
>>There seems to be a lot of confusion about the CN functional group.
>If B-12 contained cyanide it would be called cobalamin cyanide.  B-12 is called
>cyano cobalamin because it does not contain a cyanide but a nitrile.  In
>chemical nomenclature, the term cyano means the CN group is there as a nitrile,
>not as the ionizable cyanide.


It is ionized cyanide, bound to a transition metal (here cobalt) in exactly the
same way as the cyanide in ferocyanide (or for that matter, in the same way it
is bound to the iron in your heme when it kills you). It's not really poisonous
when previously bound in this fashion, but chemically it's still a cyanide.
Prussian blue (from which cyanide gets its name) is not called "ferrous

>Laetrile does not contain cyanide.  It contains a nitrile.

True.  Split to free cyanide on contact with acid.

> Laetrile in water
>will not release cyanide.

True. Alas, your stomach contains more than water.

> Only under enzymatic action may the covalent bond of the nitrile be
> broken and the CN released as the cyanide molecule.

>Dr. C. PhD.

No, any acid will do the job.  It's rather as in the gas chamber. Nitriles are
not benign biological substances.
I have some acetonitrile (CH3-CN) here in the lab. Not as bad as NaCN, but you
still don't want to take a swig.


From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Philip E. Binzel, Jr., M.D. on laetrile toxicity
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 11:34:40 -0700

DRCEEPHD wrote in message <>...

>Well, I can see why you are an MD.  You would never have made it as a

Listen, you anonymous quack, I've forgotten more chemistry than you'll ever

>R-CN + HCL under normal physiological conditions will result in nothing,
>nada, no reaction.  The R-CN bond is covalent and not ionic.  Hydrolysis
>of this compound, if possible, would yield an amine at most.
>The R-CN bond in the body can only be broken by the action of enzymes.
>The use of the word cyanide when nitrile chemistry is involved is just
>more trickery on the part of those who wish to practice mind control, not
>to mention just plain stupidity.
>Dr. C. PhD.


Listen up and learn something.

The lability of the "R-CN" bond depends a lot on what the R is. If it
contains --HC(OH)-CN you have a compound which may easily eliminate CN-
to go to the corresponding ketone or aldehyde. There are plant enzymes
(hydroxynitrile lyases also known as alpha-hydroxynitrilases) which help
this along for for the alpha hydroxynitriles derived from amygdalin once
your own gut and liver beta glucosidases have processed it, or plant
enzymes have.  But it also happens sponteously in water and can be acid
or base catalyzed, as can most eliminations of this type.

     O:     -->  H+                                 O
      |    )                                        ||
----C <                        --------->        -- C--    +    CN: -
   ( ..
    >  CN -

Plants have both enzymes since they are trying to kill you if you try to
digest their seeds.  But no plant enzyme is necessary, and your own
enzymes aren't necessary for the actual final cyanide production; the
de-nitrilation reaction of monosacharides to free cyanide can happen
spontaneously to the extent of killing you, plant lyase enzyme or not.

I've appended some abstracts and reviews. Read them. If you have some
specific problems with what the plant chemists say and the animal
experimental studies find, be sure and point them out specifically.
Otherwise, put a sock in it.  Yer dangerous.

Biol Chem 1996 Oct;377(10):611-7

Hydroxynitrile lyases of higher plants.

Wajant H, Effenberger F.

Institute of Cell Biology and Immunology, Allmandring, Germany.

Release of HCN from cyanogenic glycosides is due to the cleavage of the
carbohydrate moiety by beta-glucosidases to yield the corresponding
alpha-hydroxynitrile, which dissociates spontaneously into HCN and a
carbonyl compound, or by action of an alpha-hydroxynitrile lyase (HNL). A
short review of the regulation of the catabolism of cyanogenic glycosides
during cyanogenesis and germination of cyanogenic plants is given. The
major biochemical properties of HNLs purified from various species of
higher plants are summarized.  Thereafter the phylogenetic relationship,
molecular structure and catalytic mechanism of these enzymes are
discussed. Finally we give an overview of recent progress in the use of
HNLs as biocatalysts for the synthesis of optically active
alpha-hydroxynitriles which are important building blocks in the fine
chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Publication Types:
Review, tutorial

PMID: 8922588 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Toxicon 2000 Jan;38(1):11-36

Plant cyanogenic glycosides.

Vetter J.

Department of Botany, University of Veterinary Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

The cyanogenic glycosides belong to the products of secondary metabolism,
to the natural products of plants. These compounds are composed of an
alpha-hydroxynitrile type aglycone and of a sugar moiety (mostly
D-glucose).  The distribution of the cyanogenic glycosides (CGs) in the
plant kingdom is relatively wide, the number of CG-containing taxa is at
least 2500, and a lot of such taxa belong to families Fabaceae, Rosaceae,
Linaceae, Compositae and others. Different methods of determination are
discussed (including the indirect classical photometrical and the new
direct chromatographic ones). The genetic control of cyanogenesis has no
unique mechanism, the plants show variation in the amount of the produced
HCN. The production of HCN depends on both the biosynthesis of CGs and on
the existence (or absence) of its degrading enzymes.  The biosynthetic
precursors of the CGs are different L-amino acids, these are hydroxylated
then the N-hydroxylamino acids are converted to aldoximes, these are
turned into nitriles. The last ones are hydroxylated to
alpha-hydroxynitriles and then they are glycosilated to CGs. The
generation of HCN from CGs is a two step process involving a
deglycosilation and a cleavage of the molecule (regulated by
beta-glucosidase and alpha-hydroxynitrilase). The tissue level
compartmentalisation of CGs and their hydrolysing enzymes prevents
large-scale hydrolysis in intact plant tissue. The actual level of CGs is
determined by various factors both developmental and ecological ones,
which are reviewed too. The last part of the present work demonstrates
the biological roles of CGs in plant physiological processes and in plant
defence mechanisms as well. The effect of CGs (HCN) on different animals,
the symptoms of poisonings are discussed to cows, sheep, donkeys, horses
and chicks. Finally, the poisonous effects of cassava (Manihot esculenta)
roots are summarised on experimental animals and on the human organism.

Publication Types:
Review, academic

PMID: 10669009 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

J Anim Sci 1990 Jun;68(6):1648-55

Factors that determine rates of cyanogenesis in bovine ruminal fluid in

Majak W, McDiarmid RE, Hall JW, Cheng KJ.

Agriculture Canada Research Stations.

Strained ruminal fluid was collected from cattle fed five diets at two
locations to determine in vitro rates of cyanogenesis from the glycosides
amygdalin, prunasin and linamarin. Rates of dissociation for the
corresponding aglycones, benzaldehyde cyanohydrin and acetone
cyanohydrin, also were determined.  Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) in ruminal
fluid was determined with a modified method of HCN analysis that
independently measured the overall rate of cyanogenesis and the
nonenzymatic dissociation of cyanohydrins, the intermediate products in
the degradation of cyanogenic glycosides to HCN. Rate of dissociation of
cyanohydrins in ruminal fluid was pH-dependent, with high rates of
dissociation (as expressed by the rate constant or half-life of the
reaction) occurring at pH greater than 6 and slower rates at pH 5 to 6.
Cyanohydrin dissociation was most rapid when cattle were fasted for 24 to
48 h and ruminal pH was high; rate of dissociation was much slower during
feeding and digestion. When the glycosides were examined, highest rates
of cyanogenesis (mg HCN.liter-1.s-1) were observed after a 24-h
postprandial period. Hence, cattle are most susceptible to poisoning by
cyanogenic plants when the pH of ruminal fluid is elevated (for rapid
dissociation) and also when the activity of microbial beta-glucosidase is
adequate for rapid hydrolysis of glycosidic bonds. Rates of cyanogenesis
were higher when ruminal inocula were from cattle fed fresh alfalfa or
cubed alfalfa hay rather than grain or long hay. Rates of HCN production
were slowest using inocula from cattle fed grain; rates for the three
glycosides were negligible at the 3 and 6 h postprandial sampling

PMID: 2166729 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Ciba Found Symp 1988;140:67-91

Localization and catabolism of cyanogenic glycosides.

Poulton JE.

Department of Botany, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242.

The catabolism of cyanogenic glycosides is initiated by cleavage of the
carbohydrate moiety by one or more beta-glycosidases, which yields the
corresponding alpha-hydroxynitrile. Until recently, the mode by which
cyanogenic disaccharides are hydrolysed was largely unclear.
Investigation of highly purified beta-glycosidases from plants containing
cyanogenic disaccharides has now indicated that these compounds may be
degraded via two distinct pathways, depending on the plant species.
beta-Glycosidases from Davallia trichomanoides and Vicia angustifolia
hydrolysed (R)-vicianin and (R)-amygdalin at the aglycone-disaccharide
bond producing mandelonitrile and the corresponding disaccharide.
Alternatively, hydrolysis of cyanogenic disaccharides in Prunus serotina,
almonds, and Linum usitatissimum involves stepwise removal of the sugar
residues. The nature of these enzymes and of other beta-glycosidases
responsible for hydrolysis of simple cyanogenic monosaccharides is
discussed.  Hydroxynitriles may decompose either spontaneously or
enzymically in the presence of a hydroxynitrile lyase to produce hydrogen
cyanide and an aldehyde or ketone. The major kinetic and molecular
properties of hydroxynitrile lyases purified from species accumulating
aromatic and aliphatic cyanogens are reviewed. Cyanogenesis occurs
rapidly only after cyanogenic plant tissues are macerated, allowing
glycosides access to their catabolic enzymes. The possible nature of the
compartmentation which prevents cyanogenesis under normal physiological
conditions is discussed in relation to our knowledge of the tissue and
subcellular localizations of cyanogens and catabolic enzymes.

Publication Types:
Review, tutorial

PMID: 3073063 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Can J Physiol Pharmacol 1985 Sep;63(9):1080-3

On the metabolism of amygdalin. 1. The LD50 and biochemical changes in rats.

Adewusi SR, Oke OL.

The mean lethal dose (LD50) of amygdalin in rats was found to be 880
mg/kg body weight (BW) by oral administration. However, when 600 mg/kg BW
was administered orally with beta-glucosidase, all the rats died. Total
and Mg ATPase activities of the heart decreased with increasing levels of
administered amygdalin.  When 200 mg/kg BW amygdalin was administered 2.3
mg (11.7% of the dose) was excreted intact over 48 h. Amygdalin, 7.4 mg
(18.5% of the dose) was excreted when the dose was 400 mg/kg BW, while
7.5 mg (12.4% of the dose) was excreted as intact amygdalin when the
dosage was increased to 600 mg/kg BW. Thiocyanate excreted within the
same 48-h period was 7.0, 9.1, and 9.5 mumol representing 18, 11.2, and
7.8% of the 200, 400, and 600 mg/kg BW oral dosage, respectively. With
300 mg/kg BW amygdalin administered intraperitoneally, 4.1 mg amygdalin
and 3.9 mumol thiocyanate representing 13.7 and 6.5% of the dose,
respectively, was excreted. Excretion of intact amygdalin and thiocyanate
was uniform when the dose was low (200 mg), but with higher doses over
70% of the excreted products were detected in the urine during the first
24 h.

PMID: 2932206 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Arch Toxicol 1982 Mar;49(3-4):311-9

The pharmacokinetics of amygdalin.

Rauws AG, Olling M, Timmerman A.

Amygdalin (D-mandelonitrile-beta-D-gentiobioside) is a cyanogenic
glycoside claimed to show anti-cancer activity, sold under the incorrect
name "Laetrile".  For a sensible discussion of its alleged activity and
its established toxicity it is necessary that its fate in the organism is
known. The pharmacokinetics of amygdalin have been investigated in the
Beagle dog after both intravenous and oral administration. The excretion
of amygdalin has also been studied in the rat. Amygdalin concentrations
were determined by high performance liquid chromatography in plasma
ultrafiltrate and urine. The pharmacokinetics of amygdalin after
intravenous administration were compared with those of diatrizoate, a
model substance for extracellular volume and glomerular filtration. The
amygdalin clearance is significantly larger than that of diatrizoate. The
volumes of distribution of both substance are the same.  After oral
administration only a few percents of the amygdalin dose are systemically
available. A part of the oral dose is recovered from the urine as
prunasin (D-mandelonitrile-beta-D-glucoside).

PMID: 7092570 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

JAMA 1981 Feb 13;245(6):591-4

A pharmacologic and toxicological study of amygdalin.

Moertel CG, Ames MM, Kovach JS, Moyer TP, Rubin JR, Tinker JH.

Six patients with advanced cancer were treated with amygdalin (laetrile)
at dosages similar to those employed by laetrile practitioners. Amygdalin
given intravenously at 4.5 g/sq m/day was largely excreted unchanged in
the urine and produced no clinical or laboratory evidence of toxic
reaction. Amygdalin given orally at 0.5 g three times daily produced
significant blood cyanide levels to 2.1 microgram/mL. No clinical or
laboratory evidence of toxic reaction was seen in the six patients taking
oral amygdalin at this dosage. One patient, however, challenged with a
large intake of raw almonds, had transient symptoms of cyanide toxic
reaction with escalating blood cyanide levels. This small study indicates
that amygdalin in the doses employed produces few clinical side effects.
A definite hazard of cyanide toxic reaction must be assumed, however, and
possible long-term side effects remain unknown.

Publication Types:
Clinical trial

PMID: 7005480 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

9: Cancer 1980 Feb 15;45(4):799-807

The case against laetrile: the fraudulent cancer remedy.

Greenberg DM.

The evidence for the claims that laetrile (amygdalin) can prevent or
control cancers has been reviewed. The beta-glucosidase content of cancer
tissues is low compared to that of normal liver and small intestine.
Cancer tissues contain the enzyme rhodanese in amounts comparable to that
of liver and kidney and hence, cannot be attacked selectively by cyanide
release through beta-glucosidase action on amygdalin. Amygdalin does not
have the properties of a vitamin.  Rats have been reared for several
generations on diets devoid of cyanogenic glycosides, without developing
neoplasms. Experiments with tumor-bearing rodents have demonstrated no
curative properties by amygdalin administration.  Amygdalin is not as
non-toxic as claimed, particularly when ingested orally, and especially
when taken with plant material high in beta-glucosidase. The claims for
cure and control of cancers in humans have been refuted by distinguished
physicians who specialize in the treatment of cancer patients. The
writings of laetrile proponents are filled with erroneous and absurd
statements. The propaganda for the doctrine of "freedom of choice in
cancer treatment" deludes many individuals with treatable cancer to
reject proven methods of treatment.

Publication Types:

PMID: 6986971 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

JAMA 1979 May 4;241(18):1891-2

Cyanide production from laetrile in the presence of megadoses of ascorbic

Backer RC, Herbert V.

Publication Types:

PMID: 430763 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

JAMA 1978 Mar 6;239(10):943-7

Laetrile toxicity studies in dogs.

Schmidt ES, Newton GW, Sanders SM, Lewis JP, Conn EE.

Dogs were fed laetrile and fresh, sweet almonds under various conditions.
The doses of laetrile were similar to those prescribed for patients with
cancer and ranged on a basis of gram to square meter from an equivalent
of the oral dose for man to five times this dose. Six of the ten dogs
died of cyanide poisoning.  One dog recovered, and three dogs, at the
time of sacrifice, demonstrated various levels of neurologic impairment,
ranging from difficulty in walking to coma. These studies demonstrate
that oral laetrile is highly toxic when taken with some common table
foods. We predict that there will be an increased incidence of cyanide
poisoning in man as laetrile becomes more readily available.

PMID: 203726 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Philip E. Binzel, Jr., M.D. on laetrile toxicity
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 10:37:31 -0700

DRCEEPHD wrote in message <>...

>>Listen, you anonymous quack, I've forgotten more chemistry than you'll
>>ever know.
>You must have me confused with your brethren.  The word quack comes from
>your medical use of mercury, which in German is quack salber.  When going
>to this type of doctor you were going to the quack, i.e. a doctor that
>uses mercury.


I'm well aware of the derivation of the word. Also that the meanings of
words change with time, which is why you can today be electrocuted by
your toaster, even though the legal punishment system isn't involved. And
why you park on driveways, drive on parkways, and (in California) pay
toll on many freeways.  Etc.

>By the way, you still use mercury as well as blood letting don't you?

"Bloodletting," is (in a sense) done, though it's not called that anymore
since the purpose is different. It wouldn't really be appropriate to
refer to preparation for a colonoscopy as "purging", even though
purgatives are given. All in all, insisting that doctors still do
"bloodletting" or "leaching" is really about as silly as saying that that
people still dephlogisticate wood in their fireplaces. Again, language
changes as understanding does, and that is as it should be.

As for mercury, some compounds are still used in topical antiseptics, and
(I believe) as preservatives in vaccines. They are being phased out.

>Dr. C. PhD. ( chemistry, actually )

Now that is funny. This was a Ph.D. chem program in which you missed
learning about nucleophilic attack on carbonyls, and the reverse
reaction, which is the elimination of such substituents from
alpha-hydroxy carbons? Where they forgot to tell you that CN:- is a
pretty good leaving group, much like RO:- or I- ?

I'm still waiting to find out where this university you have the Ph.D.
program is.  Would looking on a matchbook cover help? Your microbiology
dept was run by people who didn't believe in infectious diseases, your
biology dept by people who didn't believe in evolution, and obviously
your O-chem department by people still groping around in the 19th
century, too.  Hmmmm. Oral Roberts?  Nah, you education is too horrid
even for that.


From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Philip E. Binzel, Jr., M.D. on laetrile toxicity
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 14:22:41 -0700

DRCEEPHD wrote in message <>...

> However, to call blood letting phlebotomy is an effort to hide the
> truth. You still do not know the cause so you engage in treating the
> symptoms with bloodletting.

The cause is known for some things. Hemochromatosis, for example, is
a genetic mutation which causes a few people per thousand to absorb
more iron than is good for them by the time they get old.  It's a beneficial
mutation for younger people, especially women, so it's not hard to see
why it's one of the more common genetic "defects".  Whether it's even is
a defect depends on your point of view. In any case, the excess iron has
to be gotten rid of, and removing blood is the easiest and safest way to
do it quickly.

>The same is true with spirits and demons.  They once made man ill.  Today
>we have germs and viruses.  Same thing, different name.  Neither cause
>disease, they are merely symptoms of disease.

Again, if that were true you couldn't give people or animals diseases by
exposing healthy specimens to the appropriate bacteria and viruses. But
you can, therefore your theory is malpredictive.

You'll also going to have a hard time explaining the effectiveness of
vaccines. For example, the last time polio hit the Netherlands (1992) it
confined itself to a group of "orthodox" Christians who don't believe in
vaccination, for religious reasons. They live in communities within the
country, surrounded by people with a 95% vaccination rate, with plenty of
contact between communities. In the last epidemic over 60 religious nuts
were paralyzed, vs. a single person in the entire rest of the nation. The
polio moved with awesome specificity, taking the unprotected. Sewage
collected from the orthodox showed they were excreting a wild virus,
related to viruses in India. Nobody else got it.

All this a repeat of the 1978-9 epidemic, in which the SAME community
suffered an epidemic of paralyzed people.  Also, at that time, so did
their contacts with a community of the same faith, living in Alberta
Canada, who had the dubious distinction of causing all by themselves the
entire epidemic of polio in Canada that season. Just to show you that the
two most common things in the universe really are hydrogen and stupidity.

>As far as medical progress, I will admit that the doc no longer paints
>his face, puts on a head dress and comes into the room shaking rattles
>with the nurse playing a drum.  However, wearing his "scrubs" , his mask,
>and his little green hat, does the same thing for the patient.

Oh, obviously. And just as obviously, the wetsuit of the scuba diver is
there just to try to impress technological imbeciles, too. But you're not
fooled by uniforms, are you?

>Propaganda, indoctrination, and advertising are a fine art today.
>Medical names change to fit the image desired, but the actual practice of
>allopathic medicine has not changed.

Hasn't changed since the days when doctors did surgery in their formal
waistcoats? You need to learn a lot about medical history. Doctors don't
wear the stuff they do, just to look neat. No more than the firefighter
wears his coat to look neat, or the astronaut his suit. These things
acquired style because of who wore them, not the other way around.
Otherwise they're pretty silly-looking, like boots, spurs, and chaps.

>>As for mercury, some compounds are still used in topical antiseptics,
>>and (I believe) as preservatives in vaccines. They are being phased out.
>They are being phased out due to the uproar over their toxicity, not
>because of medical generosity or an admission of guilt or stupidity.

We learn over time. You would just saying that allopathic medicine doesn't
change. You can't have it both ways.

You'll notice that automobiles come with headrests and seatbelts, now. Is
an admission of guilt or stupidity necessary, every time technology

>I'm not aware that the stomach is engaging in organic chemistry and
>conducting nucleophylic substitution reactions.

Well, now you are.

>Seems to me the stomach
>engages in enzymatic cleavage of chemical bonds by the simple process of

Hydrolysis is not simple. It is one class of nucleophilic substitution at
the carbonyl of a peptide bond. If it happens via enzyme, the
intermediate substituents are amino acid side chains at the active site,
and later OH and H from water. Or, a peptide can be hydrolyzed without an
enzyme, by means of direct substitution.

>>I'm still waiting to find out where this university you have the Ph.D.
>>program is.  Would looking on a matchbook cover help? Your microbiology
>>dept was run by people who didn't believe in infectious diseases,
>They have learned the truth.

They are idiots.

>>your biology dept by people who didn't believe in evolution
>Yeah, the math and the chemistry argue against evolution.  The matematical
>probability of life is non-existent.  The laws of chemistry prove its not

They prove no such thing. This only means you have no understanding of
the laws of chemistry and physics.  I suggest that you go over to and let them beat up on you a while.

>It is not a matter of being brainwashed, indoctrinated and thusly
>educated. It is a matter of reading the lit. from the beginning of the
>issue to make sure that I was not being fed a lie. If you do not like
>informed opinions, stay in your med groups.  You will all feel happy and
>well since none of you are capable of an original thought. One sided,
>poorly informed opinions are always warmly received in medical groups.
>Dr. C. PhD.

As I've said, you'll have to stay mostly out of all the sci. groups with
opinions like yours.  There's a vast conspiracy out there, Dr. Ignoran-C,
Ph.D.  Don't let them know you can see they are naked.

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