[Skip to Navigation]
September 13, 1976

Laetrile for Cancer

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Medical Physics and Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of California, Berkeley.

JAMA. 1976;236(11):1284-1286. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270120056033

ANOTHER chapter is being written in the melancholy history of cancer quackery. This chapter, entitled "Laetrile," follows the outline of its predecessors. First, a remedy is introduced resulting from a novel "strange idea." Next, its promoters become so dedicated to advocating the remedy that they cannot retreat from a position which becomes untenable as a result of exposure of the worthlessness of the remedy. Third, the promoters are reinforced in their fraudulence by champions of the "underdog" against the "establishment," and by the surviving relatives of the deceased victims of cancer. These relatives, because of feelings of guilt, cling to their belief that treatment with the "remedy" was the best possible therapy. Finally, vast sums of money and amounts of time are wasted on elaborate tests of the "remedy" by qualified scientists who should be doing something useful. These tests are usually undertaken because of coercion by legislators and other