During 1950 after many years of research, a dedicated biochemist by the name of Dr. Ernst T. Krebs, Jr., isolated a new vitamin that he numbered B17 and called 'Laetrile'. As the years rolled by, thousands became convinced that Krebs had finally found the complete control for all cancers, a conviction that even more people share today. Back in 1950 Ernst Krebs could have had little idea of the hornet's nest he was about to stir up. The pharmaceutical multinationals, unable to patent or claim exclusive rights to the vitamin, launched a propaganda attack of unprecedented viciousness against B17, despite the fact that hard proof of its efficiency in controlling all forms of cancer surrounds us in overwhelming abundance. ...
Video: World Without Cancer by Edward Griffin:
The AMA held this guy down...even after he managed a 25% cure rate for the worst forms of children's brain cancers.
The big problem is during the '50s our knowledge of cancer was still pretty much in its infancy. This can be gauged by the fact during the '70s the "rage" in research circles was the so called "viral theory" according to which most (if not all) forms of cancers were caused by various virus strains. It was an appealing theory because it promised an end to cancer through the development of vaccines to immunize the population against these viral infection. Of course we now know it was humbug: viruses are, at best, contributing factors. The HPV vaccine, whose efficiency is highly debated, is all the pharmacological industry has to show for over a decade of research during which untold sums of money and manpower hours were squandered.
That vitamins may hold the key to treat many grave diseases is nothing new: in the '20s George Minot and William Murphy, two Harvard MD's, discovered they could alleviate the symptoms of pernicious anemia by feeding patients large amounts of raw liver. They suspected the key was an "active material" in the liver they named vitamin B12. Determing its structure is what won Dorothy Parker her Nobel Prize. The problem was, of course, raw liver only contains only minute quantities of B12 so an efficient sythesis reaction had to be devised to produce effective medications. Since then B12 has been shown to be if not able to treat a variety of conditions at least to alleviate the conditions.
The problems involved are however incredibly difficult. For example it's still unknown why untreated pernicious anemia progresses to a neurological disease. There's obviously a link with vitamin B12 but given dietary requirements are so low, B12 deficiency is almost impossible. Recent studies hint methionine syhtesis inhibition may be responsible for neural degeneration but the mechanisms involved are still completely unknown.
B17 may be something similar, but given how little we know about the widely studied B12, we just cannot say at the moment.
Relevant quote from Jon Barron, a nutrition writer:
What value were people getting all those years they were consuming just ascorbic acid?
Was there any source for vitamin C available for all those years that packed ascorbic acid with its bioflavonoids and calcium? The answer is: of course! Oranges package the whole deal together. Grapefruits package the whole deal together. Acerola cherries package the whole deal together. Nature packages the whole deal together!
The reductionist approach of science, for all its usefulness in other areas, is simply not efficient at identifying the complexes of nutrients packaged in natural sources. There are just too many variables and too many unknowns at this stage.
Why anarchy fails