Last week Health Canada issued a reminder, advising people not to consume apricot kernels because of the risk of cyanide poisoning. The agency is urging anyone who has consumed apricot kernels and experienced symptoms of cyanide poisoning to seek medical advice right away.
|Health Canada issues formal warning reminding people not to consume apricot kernels for any medical purpose, including treating cancer with the scientifically bogus vitamin B17, or amygdalin.|
So why in the world would anyone knowingly consume cyanide? Well, as it turns out, apricot kernels (and some other stone fruit kernels) contain a chemical compound called amygdalin. Charlatans claim–with no scientific proof–that amygdalin and its synthesized chemical cousin laetrile are effective against a number of types of cancer. They falsely label amygdalin and laetrile “vitamin B17”. In truth, neither is a vitamin at all.
The quackery is so common that Dr. Irving Lerner, who wrote about it in a 1981 piece for the American Cancer Society, called it, among other things, the most profitable cancer cure scam in medical history.
But what is true is that amygdalin, when consumed, hydrolyzes in the small intestine to cyanide.