Could Cancer Be Prevented By Eating Apricot Pits? – Laetrile and Pancreatic Enzyme Treatment

Beard Researches Pancreatic Enzyme Therapy
John Beard  first discovered the invasive activities of trophoblasts in 1902. He observed that when the fetus attaches itself to the uterine wall, it is attacked by trophoblasts in a similar manner as the invasive action of cancer cells. When the placenta is in place, the trophoblasts cease to attack.

Placental Structure and Transport

Placental Structure and Transport – Photo Credit: University of Bern – Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Beard observed that trophoblast invasion begins to decrease at about the same time that the pancreas in the developing fetus begins to develop, and consequently he began researching  pancreatic enzymes, particularly Chymotrypsin, in the treatment of cancer.

Structures of the pancreas

Structures of the pancreas Acinar cells produce digestive enzymes, which are secreted into tiny ducts that feed into the pancreatic duct.  Photo Credit: Encyclopedia Britannica

Beard conducted research experiments with the pancreatic fluid extracted from young animals. The cancer tumors in both animals and humans decreased in size after pancreatic substances were injected into the tumors.  The digestive enzymes trypsin and chymotrypsin halted the growth of 100% of fast-growing cancers when it was taken orally at an extremely high dosage.

Dr. John Beard Cancer book

Dr. John Beard – The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer and Its Scientific Basis

John Beard’s 20 years of hard laboratory research, still holds up to rigorous scientific scrutiny today.  His multiple research studies were published in JAMA and in a book on the use of enzyme therapy for cancer between 1902 and 1911.

The Discovery of Vitamin B-17

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, Ernst Theodore Krebs Jr. (May 17, 1911 – September 8, 1996) and his father, Ernst T. Krebs Sr. developed and applied the Beard Thesis of Cancer to their work with both the pancreatic enzymes and Laetrile (Vitamin B-17).   Ernst was an American biochemist from San Francisco.  Both he and his father are widely recognized as the co-discoverers of Vitamin B-17, commonly known as Laetrile (a synthesized form of vitamin B-17)  or Amygdalin, for the control of cancer.

apricot_imageLaetrile, also known as Amygdalin,  is found in most fruit seeds, namely apricot seeds, apple seeds, etc. Apricot kernels are one of the richest sources of vitamin B-17.

Ernst Jr. was a graduate student at the University of California in Berkeley from 1943 to 1945 and did research work in pharmacy from 1942 to 1945.  Both Ernest Jr. and Sr. also discovered another of the B vitamins called B-15, or pangamic acid. Ernst Jr. and Sr. both studied and expanded the upon the research of Dr. John Beard, and the use of Chymotrypsin, and in 1945, Ernst T. Krebs Jr. was instrumental in founding the John Beard Memorial Foundation.

Cancer Trophoblast and Laetrile, Vitamin B17 Molecule  Photo Credit: Vision B Seventeen Sdn Bhd, Prof Syed Putra Meir, Indonesia

Medical claims by Krebs Jr. and Sr. are not supported by the FDA and are considered by some professionals to be “quackery.” (Markle 1980, Lerner 1981).  The FDA, the AMA, and the American Cancer Society have labelled it fraud. Moreover, the use of Laetrile as a cure for cancer has been advertised as a possible risk for cyanide poisoning. Vitamin B-17 contains part of the cyanide molecule (called the cyanide ‘radical’), but so does vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin). Certain chemicals, after ingestion, can be converted by the body into cyanide. Those most at risk of unintentional cyanide poisoning are those who work in industries that use cyanide and those who smoke have twice the amount of cyanide as those who don’t.

However, when Laetrile was used by Beard and Krebs to cure cancer, the cyanide was released into the tumor in extremely small quantities.  Research studies, including those opposed to the use of Laetrile, have shown that used in the recommended dosages even intravenous application was “free of clinical toxicity and no cyanide could be detected in the blood” (Day 2013).  Today there are many products on the market in other countries based on the work of Krebs Jr. and Sr. and promoting Laetril or Vitamin B17 as a “cure” for cancer.


Gerson Therapy Nutritional Program for Cancer Prevention
Dr. Max Gerson (October 18, 1881 – March 8, 1959) was a German-born American physician who developed the Gerson Therapy, an alternative dietary therapy, which he claimed could cure cancer and most chronic, degenerative diseases.  Gerson Therapy is based on the belief that all disease is caused by the accumulation of  toxins in the body.

Dr. Max Gerson - Gerson Therapy

Dr. Max Gerson – Gerson Therapy

A predominantly vegetarian diet is prescribed to cure the disease including hourly glasses of organic juice and various dietary supplements.  Gerson was in agreement with the earlier work of Beard, that tumors develop as a result of pancreatic enzyme deficiency.  Those who are following the Gerson Therapy receive enemas of coffee, castor oil and sometimes hydrogen peroxide or ozone. In Cancer Therapy: Results of 50 Cases (1990),  Dr. Max Gerson discusses the research, theory, and practice of his Gerson Therapy to treat cancer. Cases are documented with X-ray photographs, before and after.  The National Cancer Institute evaluated Gerson’s claims and concluded that his research results were statistically inconclusive. The American Cancer Society reported that “[t]here is no reliable scientific evidence that Gerson therapy is effective in treating cancer, and the principles behind it are not widely accepted by the medical community. It is not approved for use in the United States.” The Gerson Institute is a non-profit organization in San Diego, California. The institute claims that Gerson Therapy is a “non-toxic treatment for cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases.”

Dr. William Donald Kelley, D.D.S.

Dr. William Donald Kelley, D.D.S.

Dr. William Donald Kelley Cures Himself of Cancer
In the 1960’s, Dr. William Donald Kelley, a dentist from Grapevine, Texas, cured himself of pancreatic cancer based on Beard’s work with pancreatic enzymes and nutritional regimen.  Kelley, like Beard and Krebs, also studied pancreatic enzymes and the similarities of trophoblasts and cancer cells.

Trophoblast  - Photo credit:  Division of Biomedical Sciences at St.George's, University of London Reproductive and Cardiovascular Disease Research Group

Trophoblast – Photo credit: Division of Biomedical Sciences at St.George’s, University of London
Reproductive and Cardiovascular Disease Research Group

He concluded that cancer cells and trophoblasts have a common origin in primordial germ cells.  He believed that when the body is weakened by toxic exposure and nervous system imbalance, and primordial germ cells migrate to this point in the body, and cancer can develop. In 1967 Kelley published, One Answer to Cancer.  In 2005 he updated and published Cancer: Curing the Incurable without Surgery, Chemotherapy or Radiation (Kelley 2005) based on 50 years of systematic nutritional planning for 33,000 patients (Kelley 2005).

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez

Gonzalez Continues the work of Beard and Kelley
In the 1990’s Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, became interested, as a young medical student, in the use of pancreatic enzymes and nutrition as a possible treatment for cancer. He conducted research based on the findings of Dr. John Beard and William Donald Kelley.  Gonzalez incorporated many of Dr. Beard’s and Dr. Kelley’s key points into his own treatment regimen, The Gonzalez Regimen (PDQ) includes the use of pancreatic enzymes, along with nutritional supplements, coffee enemas, and prescriptive diets.  An example of the Gonzalez Regimen for a patient with pancreatic cancer would be:

  1. Fresh raw fruits, raw and lightly steamed vegetables, and freshly made vegetable juice daily.Juicing
  2. Plant-based cereals, nuts, and seeds, whole-grain bread and brown rice.
  3. One or two eggs daily, whole-milk yogurt daily, and fish two or three times a week, no red meat or poultry.Vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Freeze-dried thymus and liver
  4. Porcine lyophilized pancreatic enzyme (25 g to 40 g capsules daily) taken without meals at regular intervals throughout the day.

Does the FDA Approve Pancreatic Enzymes as Cancer Treatment?
The FDA has not approved Vitamin B17 (laetrile) or pancreatic enzymes as a cancer treatment. Others (Gonzolez 2007,  Kelley 1999, 2005,  Day 2013, Sarue, et al, 2004) claim that it has been shown to be effective based on clinical trials and argue that the reason that is not approved by the FDA is because of lack of funding for long-term credible research (Gdanski 2002).  Although these treatments are banned in the United States, other countries do offer pancreatic enzyme treatment and high doses of Vitamin B17 as an alternative treatment for cancer.


20 Cancer Fighting Foods

Research has recently shown these foods to be effective in fighting cancer. See our article “20 Cancer Fighting Foods” for more research

Although these treatments are banned in the United States,  more investigation  and research exploring the effect of enzyme therapy, nutrition, diet and exercise on reducing cancer risk might be beneficial. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), a change in diet is helpful in reducing cancer risk, yet the AICR states that no single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself.  Strong evidence does show that a diet filled with a wide variety of healthy vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans helps lower risk for many cancers. (See our article, “20 Cancer Fighting Foods.”)  AICR recommends filling at least two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and beans.  Exercise has also shown to boost immunity and help fight cancer, and to be an effective treatment for those recovering from cancer.  Always check with your doctor or trusted health care provider or practitioner before making a change in your diet or exercise routine.


  1. Beard J. The action of trypsin upon the living cells of Jensen’s mouse tumor. Br Med J 4, 140-141, 1906. Nutritional Research and Educational Foundation.
  2. Beard J: The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer and its Scientific Basis. London: Chatto & Windus, 1911.
  3. Day, Phillip,  Cancer: Why We’re Still Dying to Know the Truth, ISBN 0-9535012-4-8 (370 pages),  Credence Publications 2013
  4. Day, Phillip, B17 Metabolic Therapy in the Prevention and Control of Cancer – A Technical Manual, Paperback Publisher: Credence Publications 2002 ISBN-13:9781904015055
  5. Gerson, M, A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases and the Cure of Advanced Cancer by Diet Therapy : a Summary of 30 Years of Clinical Experimentation,  Gerson Institute, 1990, ISBN 0882681052, 9780882681054, Gerson Therapy
  6. Gdanski, Ron Cancer: Cause, Cure and Cover-up, Published by Nadex Publishing 2000, Gnosis
  7. Gonzalez NJ, Isaacs LL: Evaluation of pancreatic proteolytic enzyme treatment of adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, with nutrition and detoxification support. Nutr Cancer 33 (2): 117-24, 1999. PubMed
  8. Gonzalez NJ: Pancreatic cancer, proteolytic enzyme therapy and detoxification [excerpts]. Clinical Pearls News November 1999. Available online Accessed January 26, 2015.
  9. Gonzalez N: Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez on nutritional cancer therapy: a Moneychanger interview. The Moneychanger July 1995. Available online Accessed January 26, 2015.
  10. Gonzalez NJ, Isaacs LL. The Gonzalez therapy and cancer: a collection of case reports. Altern Ther Health Med 13(1), 46-55, 2007.Nutritional Research and Educational Foundation.
  11. Herbert, Victor (May 1979). “Laetrile: The cult of cyanide. Promoting poison for profit”.The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 32 (5): 1121–58.
  12. Kelley WD: One Answer to Cancer. Mount Pearl, Canada: Cancer Coalition for Alternative Therapies, Inc. 1999. Available online Accessed January 26, 2015
  13. Kelley WD, Rohe F: Cancer: Curing the Incurable without Surgery, Chemotherapy, or Radiation. Bonita, Calif: New World Promotions, 2005. WebMD
  14. Krebs, Ernst T Sr, Krebs, Ernst T Jr,  and Beard, Howard H, The Unitarian or Trophoblastic Thesis of Cancer, The Medical Record, July 1950. (republished in B17 Metabolic Therapy in the Prevention and Control of Cancer – A Technical Manual, by Phillip Day, Credence Publications)
  15. Lerner, Irving J. (1981). “Laetrile: A lesson in cancer quackery”A Cancer Journal for Clinicians  31 (2): 91–5. Wiley Online Library
  16. Markle, Gerald E.; Petersen, James C., eds. (1980). Politics, Science, and Cancer: The Laetrile Phenomenon. American Association for the Advancement of Science Selected Symposium (49). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. ISBN 0-89158-854-X.
  17. Moertel, Charles G.; Fleming, Thomas R.; Rubin, Joseph; Kvols, Larry K. et al. (January 1982). “A clinical trial of amygdalin (Laetrile) in the treatment of human cancer”. New England Journal of Medicine 306 (4): 201–6.
  18. Saruc M, Standop S, Standop J, Nozawa F, Itami A, Pandey KK, Batra SK, Gonzalez NJ, Guesry P, Pour PM. Pancreatic enzyme extract improves survival in murine pancreatic cancer. Pancreas 28(4), 401-412, 2004. Pub Med


This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at


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