California Medical Association.

Let's begin then with reality number one.  The scientific basis for the opposition against laetrile or vitamin B17 has been blatantly dishonest.  Not one physician out of a thousand has ever had a chance to use laetrile or vitamin B17 himself.  And yet, most physicians, if you ask them if laetrile works, they will say no, it does not.  It's a fraud; it's quackery.  And if you ask them how they know that, they say well, it has been analyzed by reputable sources and that is the verdict of official scientific investigation.  And you say Well, who says so?  Well, they don't rightly remember.  Most of them think they have read about it in the American Medical Association Journal or a publication put out by the American Cancer Society or a statement made by the FDA officials or something like that.  So you go to these prestigious organizations and you ask them where they got their information and again you find that the people involved in the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association and the FDA have not tested laetrile themselves.  They are, almost all of them, referring to an original research project that was conducted in the State of California in 1953.  It is known as the California Report and it was published by the Cancer Advisory Commission of the California Medical Association.
    So, now let's take a look at the California Report since this is the mainspring of 99% of the scientific and legal opposition to laetrile today.  It is a very interesting experience to take a look at that California Report.  It was written by two men, Dr. E. M. McDonald the Committee Chairman, and Dr. Henry Garland, the Committee Secretary.  The Cancer Committee consisted of seven other prominent physicians but they had no part of the writing of that report.  It was written only by McDonald and Garland.  None of these men, ladies and gentlemen, including McDonald and Garland has ever used laetrile.  All they had done was to summarize and interpret the written records of medical people who had done various phases, different kinds of experimentation of laetrile.  They read these reports submitted to them, and then summarized them and issued their own report, which was to tell us what they found.
    Now let's just stop for a second and ask ourselves, what kind of people were these individuals?  What about their scientific judgments?  Are they men whom you can trust?  Well, you may not remember them by name, but McDonald and Garland were the two physicians who at that time were making headlines all across the country by claiming publicly and vociferously that there was absolutely no connection between cigarette smoking in particular and lung cancer.  Now, for instance, Dr. Garland gave a speech in 1964 entitled "Smoking and Health".  This was delivered before the Commonwealth Club in California in San Francisco on July 9, 1964, and here is what he said in part: "A current widely held hypothesis is that cigarette smoking is related to cancer.  The hypothesis is not proven.  Cigarettes are regarded by many as one of the better tranquilizers.  It is likely that obesity is a greater hazard to American health than cigarettes," so says Dr. Garland.  And then, Dr. McDonald was even more specific; here is a photocopy of an article, a feature article taken from "U.S. News and World Report" dated August 3, 1957, entitled "Here's Another View, Tobacco May Be Harmless".
    And in this article here is a picture of Dr. McDonald sitting there very happy with a cigarette in his hand, smoke coming up, and underneath the caption, they quote Dr McDonald as saying, "The total evidence fails to establish a cause and effect relationship between smoking and cancer."  And then in the article itself, he describes smoking as a harmless past time up to 24 cigarettes per day and then he says: "One could modify an old slogan, a pack a day keeps lung cancer away."  Now, these are the two guys who wrote the California Report.  It is interesting that if people had generally followed the medical advice of these two men there would have been additional millions of deaths from lung cancer in the United States today.
    Now, as an interesting sidelight to all of this, Dr. McDonald died a few years later.  He was incinerated in a fire started by his cigarette while he was asleep.  Dr. Garland who had boasted that he was living proof that smoking was safe because he had been a chain smoker ever since he was a boy, he said, "Here I am, perfectly healthy, that's proof that you don't have to worry about smoking.  He, of course died of lung cancer.
    Now, but more important than this, ladies and gentlemen, is that McDonald and Garland, more important than their scientific ineptitude, is that they falsified their summary of the laetrile experiments and I mean exactly that when I use the word falsified, there is no other explanation for it.  The reason I can say that is because ten years later, almost by a fluke, the original documents that McDonald and Garland used to analyze and upon which they based their summary were published and made part of the public record.
    Ten years later, and for the first time, we were able to go to the original references and see what these experiments really did say.  We didn't have to rely any longer on just the word of McDonald and Garland as to what they said.  In 1963, the State of California Department of Public Health revised its original California Report, updated it, added a few more things to it and reprinted the whole thing, including those original studies in this book entitled, "Report by Cancer Advisory Council on Treatment of Cancer with Beta-cyanogenic Glucosides" or laetrile, and low and behold, when you go to the appendix and look at those old ten year old reports you find that McDonald and Garland had lied.  For instance, in the original California Report of 1953, McDonald and Garland conspicuously quoted excerpts from one physician who said that he was unable to obtain cyanide from the laetrile.  Now for those of you who are not familiar with the chemistry involved here you should know that at this point, at least, that cyanide is an essential part of the anti-cancer action of laetrile or vitamin B17.  Now don't let that scare you because I know we have a cultural antipathy towards cyanide in any form because somehow or another we know that they kill people with cyanide in the gas chamber and it is poisonous.  Indeed, when taken in the gaseous form and when taken to excessive quantities, but cyanide in trace amounts as you will see, when you get into the scientific question in trace amounts, is not only safe but very essential for health.
    In fact, many doctors have not thought about the fact that cyanocobaltin [ vitamin B12 ] has a cyanide radical in the molecule.  Also, the fact that cyanide is in the vitamin B17 is about the same as saying well golly, we dare not eat any table salt because table salt is sodium chloride and you all know that chlorine gas is deadly.  All right vitamin B17 is hydrocyanic acid.  It does contain a cyanide radical.  And the fact that McDonald and Garland had said that they couldn't get any cyanide out of it when they tried to chemically break it down was used as powerful evidence indicating that the entire theory behind vitamin B17 was a fraud.
    Okay, we now go to Appendix IV, where we find a curious document labeled as the AMA lab Report No. 72W13371.  It is dated January 14, 1953.  And in this report it says, "After refluxing for three hours, the odor of hydrogen cyanide could be detected."  Then it says, "the hydrogen cyanide was distilled into sodium hydroxide and determined by the Prussian Blue technique."  They had obtained cyanide from it.  So that was what you might call an unfair statement to indicate that they had not succeeded in doing so.
    Now, the other misleading factor about this report is that McDonald and Garland had said in their original report that the biopsies of the cancer tissue taken from the cancer patients who had been treated with vitamin B17 showed absolutely no trace whatsoever of positive chemical action on those tumors.  That the men who did the examinations had examined them carefully and were absolutely unable to find any trace of beneficial affect.  That was not true.   [c. 1975] LECTURE BY MR. G. EDWARD GRIFFIN