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An Examination of the Mechanism of Nitriloside Theories In Eliminating Cancer

by Edward Ulrich
News of Interest.TV

updated April 2, 2011

The Nitriloside molocule is made up of Benzaldehyde, Cyanide, and Sugar.
The Nitriloside molocule is made up of Benzaldehyde, Cyanide, and Sugar.

Over the past century, claims of a preventative and cure for cancer have existed based on a compound called Nitriloside which is found naturally occurring in many plants around the world.

This article examines aspects of scientific claims making up the theory that Nitrilosides are able to prevent cancerous tumors from forming and are also able to kill cancer cells that already exist. It presents a summary of the theory of how Nitrilosides eliminate cancer as well as presenting scientific studies which support and also counter the theory.

A Summarized Description of the Theory of Nitriloside Cancer Elimination, From the Documentary Video ”A World Without Cancer,” by G. Edward Griffin

Following is a summarized description of the mechanism of the Nitriloside theory of cancer elimination taken from the above video.

See the entire documentary video at this link.

With the ”trofoblastic” theory of cancer, there are no discernible differences between highly malignant cancer cells and certain pre-embryonic cells called ”trofoblasts” that are normal in the early stages of pregnancy. These cells spread and multiply rapidly, and production of such cells are triggered when they come in contact with estrogen, such as in the case of a fertilized egg, or occurring non-sexually as a part of the general healing process which results in cancer.

When cancer begins to form, the body reacts by attempting to seal it off with cells that are similar to the location it occurs which results in a lump or a bump, with the resulting tumor consisting of a ”hybrid” of trofoblast and surrounding cells, with the more malignant the tumor, the higher the percentage of trofoblast cells.

White blood cells are designed to attack whatever is foreign and harmful to a body, but they do not attack cancer cells because they are ”trofoblast,” being cells that in some cases are vital to the life cycle such as with pregnancy. The protection that nature gives trofoblast cells is a protective coat which has a negative charge similar to the negative charge that white blood cells have, which makes the white cells and trofoblast cells repel each other.

The pancreas secrets an enzyme called ”Trypsin,” which digests the protective coat of the trofoblast when it comes into contact with it in sufficient quantity, which then exposes the trofoblast to the attack of the white blood cells.

If the pancreas is weak or if the rate of Trypsin can’t keep up, then nature has provided a second line of defense which poisons malignant cells while nourishing all the rest, which is the compound known as Amygdalin from foods containing Nitrilosides. This molecule contains two units of sugar, one of Benzaldehyde, and one of cyanide all tightly locked together within it. The only substance which can unlock this molecule and release the cyanide and benzaldehyde is an enzyme called ”Beta-glucosidanse.” This unlocking enzyme is not found to any dangerous degree anywhere in the body except in cancer cells where it is always present in great quantities. Therefore, unlocking takes place at the cancer cell, and only the cancer cell.

Another important enzyme called Rhodanese is the ”protecting” enzyme because it neutralizes cyanide by converting it instantly to byproducts which actually are beneficial and essential for health. This enzyme is found in great quantities in every part of the body except the cancer cells which consequently are not protected.

Dr. Dean Burk, head of the Cytochemistry section of the National Cancer Institute has reported that in a series of tests on animal tissue, the B-17 had no effect, but released so much cyanide and Benzaldehyde when it came in contact with cancer cells that not one of them could survive. He said, ”When we add Laetrile to a cancer culture under the microscope, we see the cancer cells dying off like flies.”

Two Most Commonly Cited Studies which Purport to Refute the Mechanism of Nitriloside Cancer Elimination

Editor’s note— The following two scientific papers claim to refute specific aspects of the mechanism of Nitriloside cancer elimination using such treatments as Laetrile. I have not been able to find the text of the actual papers online to read, however many medical papers cite essentially only these two studies in their dismissal of the mechanism of Nitriloside cancer elimination. Note that in later sections of this article evidence is shown which claims to refute these studies and others like them.

1. The claim that the unlocking enzyme ”Beta-glucosidanse” is found essentially only in cancer cells has been refuted by a 1978 scientific study by Biaglow JE and Durand RE who claim that beta-glucasidnece is not found in cancer cells.

Following is a link to the abstract of the study:

2. The claim that the protecting enzyme ”Rhodanese” exists essentially everywhere in the body except the cancer cells has been refuted by a 1952 scientific study by Gal EM, Fung FH, and Greenberg DM, who claim that it also exists in cancer cells.

Following is a link to the abstract of the study:

The Presentation of Video Footage of Cancer Cells Dying When Exposed to Laetrile Under a Microscope Would Be Beneficial to Support the Theory

Footage of cancer cells dying due to causes other than Nitrilosides does exsit as presented in this section, but apparently no such footage exsits on the internet for the effects of Laetrile. Following is footage of breast cancer cells dying from the "Taxol” treatment, and also cervical cancer cells being killed by "Human Granulocytes.”

Breast Cancer Cells Dying From the ”Taxol” Treatment [Note: This is not from the effects of Laetrile Nitrilosides]
From the YouTube page: ”Live cell imaging of breast cancer cells being killed by the chemotherapy drug taxol. Cells are expressing GFP:tubulin. Cells were imaged at 20X with a spinning disc confocal microscope. Cancer cells are being treated with Taxol.”

Cervical Cancer Cells Dying From the Effects of ”Human Granulocytes” [Note: This is not from the effects of Laetrile Nitrilosides]
From the YouTube page: ”Watch the yellow arrow on this video which points out where a type of white blood cell called a granulocyte is killing cervical cancer cells.”

Scientific Reports of Ernst T. Krebs, Jr., John Beard, and Others Which Confirm the Mechanism of Nitriloside Cancer Elimination, from ”The Robert Cathey Research Source”

Following are links to information on the website of the ”Robert Cathey Research Source” which contain information supporting the theories of the mechanism of Nitriloside cancer elimination.

Main directory of the ”The Robert Cathey Research Source”:

A bibliography of essays and monographs by Dr. Krebs, John Beard and others involved with study of the metabolic resolution of cancer:

”Notice of Medical Responsibility,” January 26, 1997 [An article containing references to scientific papers validating the theory of Nitriloside Cancer Elimination]:

Other reports from the website supporting the theory of the mechanism of Nitriloside cancer elimination:

Refutations of Criticism Of The Mechanism Of Laetrile Therapy:

”The Nitrilosides (Vitamin B-17)-Their Nature, Occurence and Metabolic Significance (Antineoplastic Vitamin B-17),” by Ernst T. Krebs, Jr., Reprinted from the Journal of Applied Nutrition, Volume 22, Numbers 3 and 4, 1970:

”The Nitrilosides In Plants And Animals, Nutritional And Therapeutic Implications,” By Ernst T. Krebs, Jr., Privately Published: 1964:

”Suggested Mechanisms of Action of Vitamin B-17,” by Charles Gurchot, Ph.D.:

”The Nature of Cancer,” by Ernst Krebs, Jr. (Presented before CCS Second annual Cancer Convention, Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, California ):

A Brief Summary Of Things You Can Do When You Have Cancer:

Amygdalin (Laetrile) and prunasin beta-glucosidases: distribution in germ-free rat and in human tumor tissue:

Specificity of Serine enzymes to Cancer glyco-proteins, R.Cathey, 1997, RCRS:

Issues with Diet:

The Scientific Basis Of Laetrile Therapy:

Studies Of Normal And Malignant Tissues:

Excerpts From the Documentary and Book ”A World Without Cancer”

Following is information supportive of the theory of the mechanism of Nitriloside cancer elimination from the book and documentary "A World Without Cancer," by G. Edward Griffin.

An Excerpt From the Book ”A World Without Cancer,” Page 130, Describing Corruption in the Medical Establishment

Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura (left) and Ralph Moss (right)

Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura (left) was the senior laboratory researcher at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute. He reported that, in his experiments with mice, Laetrile was more effective in the control of cancer than any substance he had ever tested. This was not acceptable to his superiors. Instead of being pleased at the possibility of a breakthrough, they brought in other researchers to duplicate Sugiura’s experiments and to prove that they were faulty. Instead, the follow-up studies confirmed Sugiura. Undaunted, his superiors called for new experiments over and over again, following procedures designed to make the tests fail. Eventually they did fail, and it was that failure that was announced to the world.

Ralph Moss (right) was the Assistant Director of Public Affairs at Sloan-Kettering at the time of the Laetrile tests. When he was ordered by his superiors to release false information about the results of those tests, he resigned in protest.

A Written Description of an Excerpt From The Documentary Video ”A World Without Cancer” Describing Corruption in the Medical Establishment

Does Laetrile or Vitamin B-17 actually control cancer in human beings? And if it does, is there statistical evidence to back up these claims? Spokesmen for organized medicine say ”no,” however almost all opposition to Laetrile is based upon a hightly flawed 1953 report by the Cancer Commission of the California Medical Association. The report said, ”No satisfactory evidence has been produced to indicate any significant cytotoxic effect of Laetrile on the cancer cell.”

Using this report as a primary reference, government agencies soon declared that it was illegal to prescribe, transport, or even recommend Laetrile. The report was written by the Committee Chairman Dr. Ian MacDonald, and the Committee Secretary Dr. Henry Garland. There were seven other prominent physicians appointed to the committee, but none of them— not even the men who wrote the report, had any personal experience with Laetrile. They had based their conclusions entirely on the written records of others.

It is shown that the scientific judgement of these men had been compromised, as MacDonald and Garland had made headlines claiming there was no connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. In fact, MacDonald had claimed that ”24 cigarettes a day was a harmless pastime,” and then he said ”a pack a day keeps lung cancer away.” But even more important than their scientific ineptitude is the fact that both men actually have falsified their summary of the Laetrile experiments. For example, their report claimed that microscopic examinations of tumors taken from patients treated with Laetrile showed no evidence of beneficial chemical effect, yet ten years later it was learned that one of the pathologists conducting the examinations in fact did report several instances of tumor destruction, which he stated at the time could well have been caused by the action of Laetrile. MacDonald and Garland had not told the truth.

The report also stated that laboratory technicians had tried unsuccessfully to release cyanide from Laetrile, and this was offered as powerful evidence that the entire theory was a fraud, and yet, just two months prior to that, the American Medical Association chemical lab had reported that it had been successful in releasing cyanide from Laetrile; also other labs have done this also, including the California Food and Drug Lab and the Cytochemistry lab of the National Cancer Institute. Once again MacDonald and Garland had obscured the truth.

Another important aspect of this report is that the patients have received extremely small doses of Laetrile, much too small to prove anything. Today it is not uncommon to administer two or three grams of the material in a single injection, and generally, thirty or forty grams are required before the patient can report tangible signs of improvement; but in the California experiment, the maximum total dosage was only about two grams, and even that was divided among twelve injections. Five patients have received only two injections, and five had received only one, so its not surprising that these experiments had failed to obtain convincing evidence that Laetrile worked. This and other discredited reports continue to be cited by the American Cancer Society as proof of Laetrile being a hoax.

An Excerpt From the Book ”A World Without Cancer,” Pages 88 To 91, Describing the Mechanism of the Nitriloside Theory of Cancer Elimination


The B17 molecule contains two units of glucose (sugar), one of benzaldehyde, and one of cyanide, all tightly locked together within it. As everyone knows, cyanide can be highly toxic and even fatal if taken in sufficient quantity. However, locked as it is in this natural state, it is chemically inert and has absolutely no effect on living tissue. By way of analogy, chlorine gas also is known to be deadly. But when the chlorine is chemically bound together with sodium forming sodium chloride, it is a relatively harmless compound known as common table salt.

There is only one substance that can unlock the B17 molecule and release the cyanide. That substance is an enzyme called beta-glucosidase, which we shall call the ”unlocking enzyme.” When B17 comes in contact with this enzyme in the presence of water, not only is the cyanide released, but also the benzaldehyde, which is highly toxic by itself. In fact, these two substances working together are at least a hundred times more poisonous man either of them separately; a phenomenon known in biochemistry as synergism.

Fortunately, the unlocking enzyme is not found to any dangerous degree anywhere in the body except at the cancer cell, where it always is present in great quantity, sometimes at levels in excess of one-hundred times that of the surrounding normal cells. The result is that vitamin B17 is unlocked at the cancer cell, releases its poisons to the cancer cell, and only to the cancer cell. There is another important enzyme called rhodanese, which we shall identify as the ”protecting enzyme.” The reason is that it has the ability to neutralize cyanide by converting it instantly into by-products that actually are beneficial and essential to health. This enzyme is found in great quantities in every part of the body except the cancer cell which, consequently, is not protected. Let us examine what, at first, may appear to be exceptions to these rules. We have said that the unlocking enzyme is not found to any dangerous degree anywhere in the body except at the cancer cell. That is true, but note the phrase ”to any dangerous degree.” The unlocking enzyme actually is found in various concentrations everywhere in the human body. It is particularly prevalent in the healthy spleen, liver, and endocrine organs. In all of these instances, however, there also is present an even greater quantity of the protecting enzyme (rhodanese). The healthy tissue is protected, therefore, because the excess of this protecting enzyme completely neutralizes the effect of the unlocking enzyme.

The malignant cell, by comparison, not only has a greater concentration of the unlocking enzyme than found in most normal cells but it is totally lacking in the protecting enzyme. Thus, it is singularly vulnerable to the release of cyanide and benzaldehyde.

The non-cancerous organs, therefore, are endowed by nature with the unique capacity of protecting themselves and even nourishing themselves from the digestion of the B17 molecule, whereas cancerous tissue converts the same vitamin substance into powerful toxins against which it has no defense.


With this in mind, it is amusing to watch the scientific ”experts” who oppose Laetrile reveal their abysmal ignorance and arrogance on this subject. In the 1963 report of the California Cancer Advisory Commission, for example, we read:

The opinion of Dr. Jesse P. Greenstein, chief of the laboratory of biochemistry at the National Cancer Institute, was obtained in respect to the distribution of beta-glucuronidase in neoplastic [cancer] and non-neoplastic [healthy] tissues, and as to the implication that there was a ”tumor” beta-glucuronidase [unlocking] enzyme. The fact is, reported Doctor Greenstein, that beta- glucuronidase is found in all tissues of the animal body... In other words, there is much more ”normal” beta-glucuronidase than ”tumor” beta-glucuronidase in any animal body. In a letter dated November 10,1952, Dr. Greenstein wrote ”Such statement as ... 'the malignant cell ... is virtually an island surrounded by a sea of beta-glucuronidase’ is sheer nonsense.” (Report by Cancer Advisory Council, op. cit., pp. 14,15.)

Dr. Greenstein is perfectly correct in observing that the unlocking enzyme is found in all tissue of the animal body, but he is one-hundred percent in error when he tries to scoff at its abundance within and around the malignant cell. His lack of expertise, however, is made abundantly clear by the fact that apparently he is totally unaware of the corresponding presence and counteraction of the protecting enzyme in these tissues. He is castigating as ”sheer nonsense” a biochemical mechanism of which he apparently is totally ignorant.

Dr. Otto Warburg received the Nobel Prize for proving that cancer cells obtain nourishment, not through oxidation as do other cells, but through fermentation of sugar. Warburg explained:

From the standpoint of physics and chemistry of life, this difference between normal and cancer cells is so great that one can scarcely picture a greater difference. Oxygen gas, the donor of energy in plants and animals, is dethroned in the cancer cells and replaced by an energy-yielding reaction of the lowest living forms; namely, a fermentation of glucose. (As quoted in Prevention, May 1968.)

From this it is easy to see why anything that improves normal respiratory metabolism is an inhibitor to cancer growth. The point, however, is that any benzaldehyde that might diffuse away from the cancer cell and come into contact with normal cells, will be oxidized and converted into harmless benzoic acid. Benzoic acid is known to have certain anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, and analgesic properties. This could partially account for the fact that B17 produces the unexpected effect of relieving the intense pain associated with terminal cancer, and does so without the aid of narcotics. Although not a pain reliever per se, when it comes in contact with cancer cells, it releases benzoic acid right at the inflicted location and, thus, bathes that area with a natural analgesic. Meanwhile, the benzaldehyde that remains at the cancer cell will find itself in an almost total lack of oxygen causing it to linger and perform its deadly synergistic action for a prolonged period of time.

On the other hand, if a small amount of cyanide should diffuse into adjacent normal cells, it is converted by the enzyme rhodanese, in the presence of sulphur, into thiocyanate which, as stated previously, is perfectly harmless. But, more than that, thiocyanate is known as a natural regulator of blood pressure. It also serves as a metabolic pool for the body’s self-production of vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin, a substance essential for health. It comes as a great surprise for many to learn that cyanide is an essential and integral part of vitamin B12 as well as B17.


An Excerpt From the Book ”A World Without Cancer,” Pages 115 To 118, Describing Resistance to the Nitriloside Theory Being Adopted


Dr. Ralph Weilerstein, Public Health Medical Officer of the California Food and Drug Administration has said flatly: ”Nobody’s come up with any reliable data that it is of any value.” (”Food additive ban likely,” San Jose Mercury (Calif.), Sept. 9,1972.) The Federal FDA has proclaimed: ”The Food and Drug Administration has seen no competent, scientific evidence that Laetrile is effective for the treatment of cancer.” (A Cancer Journal for Clinicians (published by ACS) July/Aug., 1972.) And the American Cancer Society, in an impressive volume entitled Unproven Methods of Cancer Management, has stated:

After careful study of the literature and other information available to it, the American Cancer Society does not have evidence that treatment with Laetrile results in objective benefit in the treatment of cancer in human beings. (Unproven Methods of Cancer Management, 1971, p. 139.)

Commenting on this statement, Dr. Dean Burk of the National Cancer Institute described it as:

... a statement with close to zero scientific worth, however much sheer propaganda value. The fact is ... there are few ”Proven” methods operating on a large scale anywhere, so that the word ”Unproved,” as used by the ACS, is a highly and unjustifiedly weighted word.” (Letter from Dr. Dean Burk to Dr. Frank Rauscher, Director of the National Cancer Institute, dated April 20, 1973, reprinted in the Cancer Control Journal, Sept./Oct. 1993, p. 5.)

As far as the general public is concerned, however, if the American Cancer Society classifies vitamin B17 or Laetrile as an ”unproven cancer cure,” that’s all they need to know. Consequently, official pronouncements from prestigious organizations such as these are hard to ignore. But so are the favorable findings of those clinicians who have used Laetrile on their own patients. Somebody is wrong!

In previous pages we examined the scientific integrity of the research projects upon which official opposition to Laetrile is based, and we saw that they are shockingly lacking on all counts. We discovered, also, that almost all of the cancer ”experts” who have spoken out against Laetrile have done so, not out of personal experience or experimentation, but simply out of their complete faith in the scientific integrity of these discredited reports.

Showing that the case against Laetrile is fraudulent, however, does not constitute a case for Laetrile. It is necessary, therefore, to examine the evidence that vitamin B17 actually does work in practice just as well as it does in theory.

The effectiveness of the trophoblast thesis as a basis of cancer therapy has been demonstrated both in the laboratory and in the clinic. In 1935, for example, long before the development of Laetrile, Dr. Isabella Perry of the Department of Pathology at the University of California Medical School conducted a series of experiments in which she subjected tumor-bearing rats to prolonged inhalation of cyanide fumes. Here is what she wrote:

A considerable percentage of the animals so treated showed complete regression of the tumor. Both regressing and growing tumors in treated animals had little capacity for transplantation. (”The Effects of Prolonged Cyanide Treatment on The Body and Tumor Growth in Rats,” American Journal of Cancer, 1935, 25:592.)

Perry observed that these experiments were probably of little value to humans because, in order to be effective, the level of cyanide fumes had to be dangerously close to lethal—a problem that is not present when the cyanide is released only at the cancer 11 as it is in the action of vitamin B17. Nevertheless, these rats showed, not only complete tumor regression, but, compared to the control group without cyanide, an average life extension in excess of three-hundred percent.

When we turn to the laboratory reports on Laetrile, the results are even more encouraging, especially since there is none of the danger connected with the inhalation of cyanide fumes. Dr. Dean Burk, Director of the Cytochemistry Section of the federal government’s National Cancer Institute, reported that, in a series of tests on animal tissue, the B17 had no harmful effect on normal cells, but released so much cyanide and benzaldehyde when it came in contact with cancer cells that not one of them could survive. He said, ”When we add Laetrile to a cancer culture under the microscope, providing the enzyme glucosidase also is present, we can see the cancer cells dying off like flies.” (”Laetrile Ban May Be Lifted,” Twin Circle, June 16,1972, p. 11.)

While participating in the Seventh International Congress of Chemotherapy held in Prague in 1971, Dr. Burk declared:

Laetrile appears to work against many forms of cancer including lung cancer. And it is absolutely non-toxic....

In vitro tests with Ehrlich ascites carcinoma [a particular type of cancer culture] revealed that, where cyanide alone killed one percent of the cells and benzaldehyde alone killed twenty percent, a combination of the two was effective against all the cells. Amygdalin [Laetrile] with glucosidase [the ”unlocking enzyme”] added also succeeded in killing 100 percent of the ascites tumor cells, due to the freeing of the same two chemicals. (”Amygdalin Claimed Nontoxic Anti-Cancer Therapeutic Agent,” Infectious Diseases, Oct. 15,1971, pp. 1, 23.)

In another series of tests, Dr. Burk reported that Laetrile was responsible for prolonging the life of cancerous rats eighty- percent longer than those in the control group not innoculated. (Testimony in Hearings before the Subcommittee on Public Health and environment, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, Ninety-Second Congress, quoted in Cancer News Journal, July-October, 1972, p. 48.)

The man who made these findings was one of the foremost cancer specialists in the world. He was the recipient of the Gerhard Domagk Award for Cancer Research, the Hillebrand Award of the American Chemical Society, and the Commander Knighthood Of The Medical Order of Bethlehem (Rome) founded in 1459 by Pope Pius the Eleventh. He held a Ph.D. in biochemistry earned at the University of California. He was a Fellow of the National Research Council at the University of London, of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology, and also Harvard. He was senior chemist at the National Cancer Institute, which he helped establish, and in 1946 became Director of the Cytochemistry Section. He belonged to eleven scientific organizations, wrote three books relating to chemotherapy research in cancer, and was author or co-author of more than two-hundred scientific papers in the field of cell chemistry.

If Dr. Burk says Laetrile works, it works.


As demonstrated in this article, various scientific studies exist which claim opposing results concerning the mechanism of the Nitriloside theory of cancer elimination. In order to clarify this issue, it would be beneficial to recreate previous key peer-reviewed studies relating to the issues of the roles of Rhodanese and Beta-glucosidase in the mechanism of the Nitriloside theory of cancer elimination, and it would also be helpful to create video footage of the behavior of cancer cells in the presence of Laetraile.

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