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June 27, 1980

Vitamin B15—whatever it is, it won't help

JAMA. 1980;243(24):2473. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300500005002

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A so-called vitamin sold in health food stores may be giving users cancer rather than prolonging their lives, according to data presented at the recent meeting of the American Society for Clinical Nutrition in Washington, DC.

Neville Colman, MD, of the Hematology and Nutrition Laboratory of the Bronx Veterans Administration Medical Center, New York, told nutrition scientists that one of the components of "vitamin B15," also known as calcium pangamate or pangamic acid, is mutagenic in a widely used in vitro assay.

According to one survey, a chemical that is mutagenic in this test has a 90% probability of being able to cause cancer, Colman pointed out.

Vitamin B15 is promoted as a dietary supplement as well as a drug. According to the Food and Drug Administration, it has been alleged to help heart disease, aging, diabetes, gangrene, hypertension, glaucoma, alcoholism, hepatitis, jaundice, allergies, dermatitis, neuralgia, and neuritis.