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January 26, 1979

Cyanide Poisoning From Apricot Seeds

Author Affiliations

University of Connecticut Health Center Farmington

JAMA. 1979;241(4):359. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03290300013008

To the Editor.—  Laetrile (amygdalin), found in the kernels of apricot seeds and other fruits, has recently been legalized in several states for the treatment of cancer. Amygdalin is a cyanogenic glycoside that on hydrolysis yields hydrogen cyanide. Although supporters of laetrile as a cancer remedy maintain it has no toxicity, several reports document its toxic effects (238:482, 1977; 238:1361, 1977; 239:1532,1978). We report yet another case of cyanide poisoning from the ingestion of apricot seeds.

Report of a Case.—  On June 8, 1978, a 49-year-old woman with nodular lymphoma diagnosed six years earlier ate 20 to 40 apricot pits, which she had purchased in a local health food store. The patient denied using the pits as a cancer treatment or preventive; rather, they were a substitute for her regular lunch. Within half an hour the patient noted headache, weakness, disorientation, and nausea. She vomited once or twice, regurgitating substantial