The Ugly Story Behind the Laetrile Cover-Up

Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan Kettering

Eric Merola (2014)

Film Review

Second Opinion is a documentary about the deliberate cover-up of an alternative cancer treatment by Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, America’s foremost cancer research institution, and Dr Robert Moss, the Sloan Kettering science writer who exposed the cover-up.

As strange as it may seem Sloan Kettering themselves did the definitive research showing that Laetrile (aka Amygdalin and B17) is effective in small tumors in early stage cancer. Sloan Kettering even went so far as to apply to the FDA (in 1974 and 1975) for permission to conduct human Laetrile trials.

A year later, under massive pressure from the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society (both receive major funding from Big Pharma), the top brass at Sloan Kettering reversed themselves and falsely claimed that twenty laetrile studies over four years showed no beneficial effect whatsoever. As one commentator observed, if cancer patients could buy laetrile (made from apricot pits) for seventy-seven cents, they would never pay $70,000 for cancer chemotherapy.

Sloan Kettering Researcher Kanematsu Sugiura

The chief laetrile scientist at Sloan Kettering was an eight-five-year-old Japanese researcher named Kanematsu Sugiura. Sugiura was with the Center for over sixty years. His twenty studies showed that laetrile slows tumor growth, reduces lung metastases and relieves pain with small cancerous tumors.

Neither Sugiura nor Moss ever claimed that laetrile is a “cure” for cancer. Like chemotherapy, it merely slows the progression of the disease. However, unlike chemotherapy, it doesn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars. Nor does it cause hair loss, extreme nausea and lethargy or immune shutdown.

Americans Defy FDA Ban on Laetrile

Although laetrile is far safer than the poisons used in chemotherapy, the FDA banned in in 1962. In the late seventies when Sugiura was doing his research, more than 70,000 Americans (one-tenth of all cancer patients) were illegally smuggling laetrile into the US from Mexico. There was also an extremely strong grassroots pro-laetrile group affiliated with the John Birch Society. They successfully lobbied 19 states to pass legislation authorizing laetrile use. They also persuaded Ted Kennedy to hold congressional hearing on laetrile. According to Moss, it was the pressure of these hearings that led Sloan Kettering to do additional (deeply flawed) studies which they claimed contradicted Sugiura’s findings.

Moss Starts Underground Newsletter

Since mainstream media refused to interview Sugiura or publish his findings, Moss decided to bring them to public view by starting an underground newsletter for Sloan Kettering employees called Second Opinion. In addition to exposing the Sloan Kettering campaign to discredit Sugiura, it also published articles about labor disputes, nursing and patient complaints and a clearly racially based dismissal.

Owing to its immense popularity, Second Opinion attracted mainstream media attention. In 1977, this culminated in a press conference in which Moss was forced to go public. Predictably he was fired and blackballed from the industry.

His wife helped out by getting a job, and Moss became a free lance writer, publishing The Cancer Industry in 1980. He has published a total of fifteen books about the capture of cancer treatment by the profit interests of powerful pharmaceutical companies. In 1991 he became an (unpaid) adviser to the National Institutes of Health on alternative and complementary cancer treatments.

In 2014, two German researchers finally (after forty years) replicated Sugiura’s findings. They have plans to launch human studies.

Unfortunately, since I first watched this documentary, the producers have made it pay per view. People can either pay $4.99 or wait till one of the Torent sites makes a free download available.

16 thoughts on “The Ugly Story Behind the Laetrile Cover-Up

  1. Thank you Dr. Bramhall for posting this. Your blog is always filled with helpful information and you attempt to keep us up-to-date on what is what. The dirty shit that’s done makes me want to spit, constantly. SIGH! Again, thanks!


    • I tend to look on the bright side, Shelby. At least the information is finally getting out there about what we can do to keep ourselves healthy. Despite doctors giving us the wrong advice about low fat diets (and lying about the studies) for 50 years, growing numbers of people are finally learning that the healthiest diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates and sugar. In my experience, most people know more about their intestinal bacteria than doctors do – and are educating them about the dangers of bacteria. And trying to educate them about the potential dangers of a lot of vaccines, though this is more difficult.

      I have a particular interest in getting the word out about alternative cancer treatments because lots of my friends are getting cancer. Many of them know traditional treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy make things worse by suppressing immunity but they don’t know which alternatives have good research to back them up. That’s why I think it’s really important to get this information out there.

      Right now I’m looking at some of the studies which have been done on turkey tail mushrooms in late stage (inoperable) breast cancer. One study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, suggests this is the best option yet for women with breast cancer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “As one commentator observed, if cancer patients could buy laetrile (made from apricot pits) for seventy-seven cents, they would never pay $70,000 for cancer chemotherapy.”

    Prevention, no cash! Cure, big bucks!

    Sick and twisted!


    • Despite the fact I myself am a trained medical doctor, I have to admit to sharing your view. I will only see a doctor as a last resort – if I can’t get the help I need from an acupuncturist or naturopath.


  3. My niece recently qualified as a Pharmacist, and whenever I try to discuss my fears with her, I get the “the double-blind studies show better/different”.

    Despite Dr Ben Goldstein’s book – “Bad Pharma” which discusses these studies, and their bias.

    Anyway, nice to hear an MD (British or American?) is fighting the good fight too.




  4. Thanks for commenting, wa1marktng. The problem with medicine (and pharmacology) is that both fields have ceased to be scientific. Corporatizing medical care has transformed both into a religion where you either belong to the faithful and blindly accept the orthodoxy or you demand evidence and rational thinking and are cast out.


    • My pleasure, tawnystranger. I have a number of friends who had had horrendous experiences with chemotherapy and am also very concerned about new research showing that chemotherapy tends to increase cancer risk. I have a friend who died on Christmas – who struggled for a year battling breast cancer, only to develop bowel cancer six months after she went into remission.


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