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Cancer Health Center

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Laetrile/Amygdalin (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Summary of the Evidence for Laetrile / Amygdalin

To assist readers in evaluating the results of human studies of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments for cancer, the strength of the evidence (i.e., the levels of evidence) associated with each type of treatment is provided whenever possible. To qualify for a level of evidence analysis, a study must:

  • Be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  • Report on a therapeutic outcome or outcomes, such as tumor response, improvement in survival, or measured improvement in quality of life.
  • Describe clinical findings in sufficient detail that a meaningful evaluation can be made.

Separate levels of evidence scores are assigned to qualifying human studies on the basis of statistical strength of the study design and scientific strength of the treatment outcomes (i.e., endpoints) measured. The resulting two scores are then combined to produce an overall score. A table showing the levels of evidence scores for qualifying human studies cited in this summary is presented below. For an explanation of the scores and additional information about levels of evidence analysis of CAM treatments for cancer, refer to Levels of Evidence for Human Studies of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Laetrile/Amygdalin Summary: Reference Numbers and the Corresponding Levels of Evidence

Reference NumberStatistical Strength of Study DesignStrength of Endpoints MeasuredCombined Score
[1]3iii ­Nonconsecutive case seriesDiii ­ Indirect surrogates -- tumor response rate3iiiDiii
[2]3iii ­ Nonconsecutive case seriesDiii ­ Indirect surrogates -- tumor response rate3iiiDiii
[3]3iii ­ Nonconsecutive case seriesDiii ­ Indirect surrogates -- tumor response rate3iiiDiii
[4]4 ­ Best case seriesNot applicable4
[5]4 ­ Best case seriesNot applicable4
[6]4 ­ Best case seriesNot applicable4
[7]3iii ­ Nonconsecutive case seriesDiii ­ Indirect surrogates -- tumor response rate3iiiDiii


  1. Moertel CG, Fleming TR, Rubin J, et al.: A clinical trial of amygdalin (Laetrile) in the treatment of human cancer. N Engl J Med 306 (4): 201-6, 1982.
  2. Kochi M, Takeuchi S, Mizutani T, et al.: Antitumor activity of benzaldehyde. Cancer Treat Rep 64 (1): 21-3, 1980.
  3. Kochi M, Isono N, Niwayama M, et al.: Antitumor activity of a benzaldehyde derivative. Cancer Treat Rep 69 (5): 533-7, 1985.
  4. Treatment of cancer with laetriles; a report by the Cancer Commission of the California Medical Association. Calif Med 78 (4): 320-6, 1953.
  5. Navarro MD: Five years experience with laetrile therapy in advanced cancer. Acta Unio Int Contr Cancrum 15(suppl 1): 209-21, 1959.
  6. Morrone JA: Chemotherapy of inoperable cancer: preliminary report of 10 cases treated with laetrile. Exp Med Surg 20: 299-308, 1962.
  7. Moertel CG, Ames MM, Kovach JS, et al.: A pharmacologic and toxicological study of amygdalin. JAMA 245 (6): 591-4, 1981.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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