This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the use of aromatherapy and essential oils in the treatment of people with cancer. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.
Laetrile is a compound that contains a chemical called amygdalin. Amygdalin is found in the pits of many fruits, raw nuts, and plants (see Question 1).
It is believed that the active anticancer ingredient in laetrile is cyanide (see Question 1).
Laetrile is given by mouth as a pill or by intravenous injection (see Question 4).
Laetrile has shown little anticancer effect in laboratory studies, animal studies, or human studies (see Question 5 and Question 6).
The side effects of laetrile...
This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Board members review recently published articles each month to determine whether an article should:
be discussed at a meeting,
be cited with text, or
replace or update an existing article that is already cited.
Changes to the summaries are made through a consensus process in which Board members evaluate the strength of the evidence in the published articles and determine how the article should be included in the summary.
Any comments or questions about the summary content should be submitted to Cancer.gov through the Web site's Contact Form. Do not contact the individual Board Members with questions or comments about the summaries. Board members will not respond to individual inquiries.
Levels of Evidence
Some of the reference citations in this summary are accompanied by a level-of-evidence designation. These designations are intended to help readers assess the strength of the evidence supporting the use of specific interventions or approaches. The PDQ Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine Editorial Board uses a formal evidence ranking system in developing its level-of-evidence designations.
Permission to Use This Summary
PDQ is a registered trademark. Although the content of PDQ documents can be used freely as text, it cannot be identified as an NCI PDQ cancer information summary unless it is presented in its entirety and is regularly updated. However, an author would be permitted to write a sentence such as "NCI's PDQ cancer information summary about breast cancer prevention states the risks succinctly: [include excerpt from the summary]."