Dangerous cancer therapy: eating apricot kernels is life-threatening

Dangerous cancer therapy: eating apricot kernels is life-threatening

Apricot kernels form cyanide in our body, a deadly poison
There are alternative cancer treatments that use, for example, vitamin B17 to prevent the spread of cancer. Some of such questionable treatments also recommend eating ten to twelve small apricot kernels a day to prevent cancer. Doctors have now warned that apricot kernels form cyanide in the human body and that the consumption of apricot kernels can even have fatal consequences.

“Alternative” websites advise eating apricot kernels to reduce the risk of cancer. Scientists from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) are now investigating the possible effects of apricot kernel consumption. The nuclei form cyanide in our body, this substance is highly toxic and can even lead to death, the experts warn. European EFSA provides a current press release on the risks.

Ten to twelve small apricot kernels are half of a lethal dose
Apparently there is a new health trend that is advising people to eat some apricot kernels daily. This is said to reduce the risk of developing cancer or spreading existing cancer, the authors say. There are even some retailers trying to sell large quantities of apricot kernels to cancer patients. The kernels are said to help treat the disease. However, they also form a large amount of cyanide in the body, warn EFSA experts. If people eat ten to twelve small apricot kernels a day, this amount is about half of a lethal dose, the scientists warn.

Our body converts the amygdalin contained in apricot kernels into cyanide
Apricot kernels contain high amounts of naturally occurring vitamin B17. This contributes to the bitter taste. However, the consumption of the nuclei creates the dangerous toxin cyanide in us, the researchers explain. A naturally occurring substance called amygdalin in apricot kernels turns into cyanide after eating. Cyanide is a toxic chemical that can cause nausea, fever, headache, insomnia, thirst, lethargy, nervousness, joint and muscle pain, and a drop in blood pressure, the experts explain. In extreme cases, the chemical can also be fatal.

The European Food Safety Authority has now carried out a study that has looked at the risks of consuming apricot kernels. Based on cyanide formation, EFSA concluded that adults should not eat more than half a large kernel daily for safety. In this way, those affected do not cross the safe area. Studies now show that around 0.5 to 3.5 milligrams (mg) of cyanide per kilogram of body weight can be fatal. An EFSA panel set the safe level at 20 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. This is 25 times lower than the lowest reported lethal dose, doctors say. The researchers came to the conclusion that adults should eat a maximum of three small apricot kernels (corresponds to an amount of approximately 370 mg). In young children, the amount is only about 60 mg, which corresponds to half a small nucleus, the authors add.

Apricot pulp consumption is completely harmless
The normal consumption of apricots does not pose a health risk for consumers. The core of apricots is protected by a hard shell, so it has no contact with the fruit itself, the doctors explain. The assessment of the claimed benefits of raw apricot kernels for cancer treatment was not part of the scientific opinion. EFSA consulted its partners in EU Member States to discuss the scientific advice and previous assessments by the national authorities. The so-called risk managers of the European Commission and the member states regulate EU food safety. The experts will now have to decide whether measures are needed to protect public health from eating raw apricot kernels, the authors add. (as)

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Video: Benefits of eating apricot kernels