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April 14, 1978

Rapid Death Associated With Laetrile Ingestion

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Drs Sadoff and Hollander) and Neurosurgery (Dr Fuchs), Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center, Los Angeles.

JAMA. 1978;239(15):1532. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280420068022

LAETRILE, a federally banned, underground drug, has been used for the prevention and treatment of cancer since 1952. Recently several state legislatures have passed bills legalizing its use. This will undoubtedly lead to more widespread use of this controversial agent, despite the lack of adequate toxicity and safety data.

Report of a Case  In January 1976, a 17-year-old girl with mild asymptomatic pulmonary stenosis had a radical excision of a right frontal astrocytoma. At the time of surgery, she weighed 53 kg. A chest roentgenogram showed slight prominence of the pulmonary outflow tract. Results of a complete blood cell count and urinalysis were normal. The neurosurgeon believed that complete removal of the tumor was accomplished. Postoperatively, she was offered a course of radiotherapy, but she refused. She was seen in consultation by two cancer centers in the Los Angeles area. Both consultants concurred with the use of post-operative radiation, but

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