24. Laetrile and Cancer

According to author/researcher Richard Levine, "The grim facts are that one in four Americans will die of cancer and the survival rates for those stricken with the disease have not improved significantly in the past two decades, despite the billions of dollars spent on research. In this kind of atmosphere unproven remedies have proliferated like bacteria in a Petri dish, though none so rapidly as Laetrile." Supporters of the drug contend it can cont.rol most forms of cancer more effectively than current forms of surgical, radiological, or chemotherapy treatments. They base their claims on testimonials from "thousands of users who swear that their cancer has been cured or at least its pain alleviated with Laetrile." While legal in 27 other countries, Laetrile is banned from use in 49 U.S. states. Although the Food and Drug Administration has never tested Laetrile for effectiveness, it has seen fit to label it a "fraud." And the American Cancer Society brands it "quackery." Subsequently, a multi-million dollar smuggling ring has sprung up to supply the thousands of cancer victims who depend on it. And clinics just over the Mexican border which specialize in Laetrile therapy are doing a land office business. The failure of the mass media to put Laetrile on the national agenda, which might force the FDA to test it, qualifies this story for nomination as one of the "best censored" stories.

SOURCES: New Times, February 18, 1977, p 33, "U.S. v. The Cancer-cure Smugglers or The Great Apricot Pit War" by Richard M. Levine.