Apricot Kernels in the Media

Report by Paul Reid

In 2010 and 2011 part of my story was featured in the Melbourne Age. I would like to post a few comments.


The Sunday Age, March 7, 2010

Anti-cancer diets: hoax, healer or false hope?

Cancer victims are increasingly turning to extreme diets for a cure.

Jill Starks reports
Paul Reid should be dead. Diagnosed with rare, incurable lymphoma, he was given five years, seven tops, by his oncologist. But having cheated death on Ash Wednesday bushfires, he was not about to surrender his life without a fight.

His weapon of choice? Apricot kernels. Thirty a day. Reid turned down chemotherapy, vowing to eat himself well. Today, 13 years in remission, the 68-year-old believes that “cancer-killing” properties in the kernels he still eats daily, coupled with a strict vegan diet and prayer, have cured him.

“We’re not immortal, but I believe I’ll be healthy from taking this direction,” he says.
Reid is among a growing number of cancer patients who see food as the key to their survival – a trend worrying doctors who fear people may be risking their lives by embarking on extreme, unproven diets. Some patients are forgoing conventional medical treatment and putting their faith in “anti-cancer diets, promoted by alternative health practitioners, or buying untested nutritional supplements on the internet…….

Paul Reid challenged mainstream medicine’s prognosis with a regime of colonic cleansing, a 75 percent raw fruit and vegetable diet, and chewing on apricot kernels – rich in amygdalin, an extract also known as B17, which doctors say is a “phoney” vitamin, but which supporters claim kills cancer cells.
He is convinced that his diet was the cornerstone of his recovery. The fact that no robust research supports his restrictive diet, or that there is evidence high doses of amygdalin can cause cyanide poisoning, and in some cases, death, is of little consequence to the Berwick father of two.

“So what if there’s no scientific proof? What has a person to lose by going on an organic diet?” he asks. “I don’t think my journey has been unscientific, it’s just that there’s been no science in a big way applied to it.”
The substances we ingest undoubtedly affect the body’s metabolic processes. Drinking alcohol can lead to slurred speech and loss of balance, while eating too much fat and sugar can cause weight gain. But food’s effect on cancer is less clear. Some practitioners in both the medical and alternative communities point to research that certain foods can either promote or inhibit cancer cell growth. Other say the the disease is caused by a build-up of toxins that must be flushed from the body with nutrient-rich produce, or that cancer feeds on sugar.
Dr Phelps, a GP and president of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association, says most alternative practitioners operate ethically, and many work collaboratively with mainstream doctors. However she says that there is a pressing need for greater attention to be paid to nutrition in medicine schools and for more funding to research potential links between food and cancer.
“Just because we haven’t got the whole picture yet doesn’t mean there isn’t something in it.” she says. “We are gathering information gradually, which is the way you gather evidence.

My comment:
Thank you Jill for the opportunity to tell a part of my story. I would just like to expand on this, so that readers get a broader picture. For my type of cancer, (low grade non-Hodgkins lymphoma), there was no medical treatment offered back in 1997. There was no medical treatment available, so nutritional therapy for me was the only way to go. (This for me was an excellent situation to be in, because I didn’t have to choose between orthodox and nutritional therapy). Low grade lymphoma responds well to nutritional therapy because it is slow growing, (4-7 years life expectancy), giving natural therapy time to work.

As for alternative therapies being ‘untested? unproven?’ I would agree with Dr Phelps who says that more funding is necessary to research the link between food and cancer. The reason these therapies are unproven is that no money has been designated for their research. But couldn’t we say that trials on real cancer victims who recover using natural therapies are a form of proof? There are many stories like my own but they don’t get published. And if we take a closer look at research presented by Phillip Day, we see that there were actually trials about 60 years ago that proved that these therapies worked, but these were shoved under the carpet.

Vegan diet and 30 kernels a day sounds extreme, but the reader must understand that I undertook this regime only at the peak of my nutritional therapy, after which I added some animal products and reduced my intake of kernels to a maintenance dose. I do not advocate a vegan diet for the general population!


The Sunday Age, November 20, 2011

Raw apricot kernels being sold as cancer cure despite cyanide warnings

Mark Russell
RAW apricot kernels, which authorities say can cause cyanide poisoning, are being sold as an alternative treatment for cancer by a Victorian company.

Cancer Council Australia, which says there is no evidence the kernels have curative powers, wants them banned. ”If you eat a large enough amount of this stuff you essentially get cyanide poisoning,” the council’s chief executive, Professor Ian Oliver, said.
”Many people think that if it’s derived from a fruit then it can’t be too harmful, but in this case it can be.”

Recent tests of kernels sold by …… to a customer in Queensland who had to be admitted to hospital after eating them found high levels of hydrocyanic acid.

There are two types of kernels: bitter and sweet. The bitter kernel is the preferred choice for cancer sufferers using alternative treatments because it contains more amygdalin. Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s Lorraine Belanger said the agency was mainly concerned about the consumption of bitter kernels and was considering listing them as a prohibited food or imposing strict labeling requirements.

Berwick cancer survivor Paul Reid, who has been in remission for 14 years after eating 30 raw bitter apricot kernels a day as part of his treatment, believes a ban would disadvantage other cancer sufferers.

But Victoria’s acting Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester said only a small number of apricot kernels would need to be eaten to reach potentially unsafe levels of cyanide.

My comment:
Anyone who wants to seriously research this will find that there is plenty of documented evidence on the effectiveness and safety of apricot kernels. For example, in 1950 biochemist Ernst Krebs discovered that the hydrocyanic acid in apricot kernels killed cancer cells but not healthy cells. He ran toxicity studies to determine whether hydrocyanic acid/Laetrill/amygdalin/Vitamin B17, was dangerous to the organism if ingested in abnormal quantities. He reported that Vitamin B17 was harmless, but when stimulated by glucosidase in the cancer cell, it became toxic to that cell. Later other researchers replicated Kreb’s work to confirm these findings. Sheep were fed large doses of hydrocyanic acid. New Zealand researchers Coop and Blakely reported that …”the only symptom the animals showed was “a general sleepiness for an hour”. Worden showed that repeated dosing of rabbits does not produce a cumulative effect and the animals were capable of eliminating excess B17 within two and a half hours.”

(from Phillip Day’s book, “B17 Metabolic Therapy” pp. 65-66).

Anyone who wants to learn more can obtain a copy of “World Without Cancer”, by G. Edward Griffin, and Phillip Day’s book “Cancer – Why We’re Still Dying to Know the Truth”.

And what about the person reported in the newspaper article to be admitted to hospital? I contacted the company who had supposedly supplied the kernels. They said that they had NOT in fact supplied the kernels. They were just singled out because their apricot kernels had the highest concentration of B17 than any in Australia. That’s because they crack theirs FRESH every week. It is true that when a person takes 40 kernels in one dose, (NOT the prescribed way of doing it!), the person may end up with a headache and feel tingly. But it seems that the person reported in the article WAS able to detoxify the B17 and did not die from eating apricot kernels… otherwise we would know about it! People do things like this when they do not have enough information. Trivial, sensational reports from the media that present only a small fraction of the information are to blame. People need to know that the correct way to take the kernels is to take no more than 5 in an hour. This gives the body plenty of time to process the B17 without any feelings of discomfort. If someone genuinely wants to take on this therapy they must do it in combination with pancreatic enzymes and a total nutritional therapy approach. There is plenty of correct information around. Phillip Day is one source. Cancer patients have to be researchers, or at least have a close friend or family member who does the research for them!

I wrote the following letter to the Age in response to my dissatisfaction with the article. (By this I mean that there is danger in presenting a few limited facts without giving the full information.)

My letter to the Melbourne Age:

Reading the article in the Sunday Age on “the dangers of eating apricot kernels”, in which I was quoted, I am disappointed about the superficiality. Yes, I was eating 30 kernels a day at the peak of my course of nutritional therapy, but it was not mentioned that they must be eaten gradually throughout the day, never more than 5 in an hour. It was also not mentioned that I started at 3 a day and built up to 30 over a period of six weeks. Research shows that when consumed in this way, the toxic component is neutralized in metabolism. Why pick on apricot kernels? Eating sugar in excess can cause diabetes. Eating peanut butter can cause anaphylaxis in some people. How crazy to deny a legitimate therapy on account of somebody’s excess.

Paul Reid, Berwick