A clinical trial of amygdalin (Laetrile) in the treatment of human cancer

N Engl J Med. 1982 Jan 28;306(4):201-6. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198201283060403.


One hundred seventy-eight patients with cancer were treated with amygdalin (Laetrile) plus a "metabolic therapy" program consisting of diet, enzymes, and vitamins. The great majority of these patients were in good general condition before treatment. None was totally disabled or in preterminal condition. One third had not received any previous chemotherapy. The pharmaceutical preparations of amygdalin, the dosage, and the schedule were representative of past and present Laetrile practice. No substantive benefit was observed in terms of cure, improvement or stabilization of cancer, improvement of symptoms related to cancer, or extension of life span. The hazards of amygdalin therapy were evidenced in several patients by symptoms of cyanide toxicity or by blood cyanide levels approaching the lethal range. Patients exposed to this agent should be instructed about the danger of cyanide poisoning, and their blood cyanide levels should be carefully monitored. Amygdalin (Laetrile) is a toxic drug that is not effective as a cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amygdalin / administration & dosage
  • Amygdalin / adverse effects
  • Amygdalin / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cyanides / blood
  • Cyanides / poisoning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipase / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diet therapy
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Pancrelipase
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Cyanides
  • Pancreatic Extracts
  • Vitamins
  • Amygdalin
  • Pancrelipase
  • Lipase