When creationism kills people

Or rather, when creationism is a symptom of profound ignorance that is also manifested in health care woo. It seems that Eric Hovind has been peddling “Vitamin B17” — a bit of quackery he inherited from his con artist father, Kent Hovind. He was recently warned by the FDA that he needs to stop selling it.

The name “Vitamin B17” is an example of lying with labels. It’s not a vitamin. It’s better known as amygdalin, or even more infamously, laetrile. It’s a fake cancer cure that does not work and has never worked. Here’s the summary of this compound from NIH:

  • Laetrile is another name for the natural product amygdalin, which is a chemical constituent found in the pits of many fruits and in numerous plants.

  • Hydrogen cyanide is thought to be the main anticancer compound formed from laetrile via in situ release.

  • Laetrile was first used as a cancer treatment in Russia in 1845, and in the United States in the 1920s.

  • Laetrile has shown little anticancer activity in animal studies and no anticancer activity in human clinical trials.

  • The side effects associated with laetrile toxicity mirror the symptoms of cyanide poisoning, including liver damage, difficulty walking (caused by damaged nerves), fever, coma, and death.

  • Laetrile is not approved for use in the United States.

  • Inappropriate advertisement of laetrile as a cancer treatment has resulted in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation that culminated in charges and conviction of one distributor.

Hovind has been criticized for selling snake oil before. All that’s happened is that he’s now a little more circumspect about making false claims about curing cancer with apricot pits, but he is still selling these useless products. In fact, that’s about all he sells in the “health” category on his site, with one addition…he’s selling an anti-vaccination book.

In this book you will read the findings of medical doctors and researchers who tell us that vaccinations are not only unsafe, but they actually work against our God given immune system.

It just goes to show that nothing a creationist says can be trusted, and that you shouldn’t be taking advice from any of the Hovinds on either science or health.


  1. weylguy says

    To paraphrase a quote from 1984’s The Terminator:
    “Listen, and understand! Creationists are out there! They can’t be bargained with! They can’t be reasoned with! They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear! And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you die or become one of them!”

  2. says

    The last big laetrile is a cure business was decades ago. Fuck, I loathe assholes who hawk such things to desperate people. He should face more punishment than just having to stop selling that poison.

  3. cag says

    you shouldn’t be taking advice from any of the Hovinds on either science or health.

    You shouldn’t be taking advice from any of the Hovinds on anything. All the other words are unnecessarily restricting and could be dangerous to your wallet and sanity.

  4. blf says

    Slightly related, a very recent Orac post is on what very strongly appears to be another cancer cure scam, Rigvir: A cancer “cure” imported from Latvia that cancer patients should avoid. It apparently has been around (in Latvia) for awhile, and is now being hawked by quack clinics in Mexico. And there are additional Honking Great Red Flags waving about, but as most of the (apparently sparse) documentation / studies is in the Latvin (mostly) language, it’s a bit difficult for the non-Latvin-speaking community to debunk. This scam came to Orac’s attention because the Latvin Health Ministry dismissed an effort by the local science- and reality-based community in Latvia to remove the stuff from the list of “medicines” that can be reimbursed under the country’s health system.

  5. Rich Woods says

    It just goes to show that nothing a creationist says can be trusted

    Wait, what? You mean God doesn’t actually need me as a sunbeam?

    I’m heartbroken, I tell you, heartbroken.

  6. says

    Pfft, Vitamin B17. I got something better, Vitamin B460! It cures cancer! Side effects include causing cancer.
    (and it’s definitely not just bacon bits)