Man wants to prevent cancer: severe cyanide poisoning from apricot kernel extract
A man who took apricot kernel extract to prevent cancer for years has contracted severe poisoning from this "alternative medicine". Apricot kernels contain a substance that is converted into cyanide. This poison can be life-threatening. Despite the risk, the man wants to continue taking his homemade remedy.
Apricot kernels are used for cancer prevention
Fruit is very healthy. Not all of it though. As reported in the medical journal "BMJ Case Reports", a man has suffered from cyanide poisoning after consuming apricot kernel extract for years. According to the information, the 67-year-old used the "alternative medicine" for cancer prevention daily for five years. However, apricot kernels also contain a naturally occurring substance called amygdalin, which turns into cyanide (hydrocyanic acid) after consumption.
Alarmingly high cyanide values measured
According to the report, the man's extremely low oxygen levels were noticed during surgery. In addition, alarmingly high cyanide values were measured in blood tests.
After the patient woke up from general anesthesia, he informed the doctors about his self-medication: accordingly, he took two teaspoons of his homemade apricot kernel extract and three additional fruit kernel tablets.
According to the magazine, the man had consumed 17 milligrams of the extract every day - enough to increase the cyanide content in the blood to 25 times the amount that is considered safe.
Poisoning can be fatal
"Cyanide poisoning can result in nausea, fever, headache, insomnia, thirst, sluggishness, nervousness, various joint and muscle pains as well as a drop in blood pressure," the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) wrote in a message.
"In extreme cases, it can lead to death," it continues. "Studies have shown that 0.5 to 3.5 milligrams (mg) of cyanide per kilogram of body weight can be fatal."
According to other health experts, 50 milligrams of the poison (one to two teaspoons) can lead to the death of a 72 kilogram person.
Apricot fruits are not a health hazard
According to the "BMJ" report, the case of the man shows that self-medication with so-called alternative medicine can be dangerous.
According to reports, the doctors had informed the patient of their concerns, but the patient had decided to continue taking his apricot kernel extract.
EFSA also pointed out last year how dangerous apricot kernel consumption can be, especially for small children.
But: "The normal consumption of apricot fruits does not pose a health risk for consumers," said the experts. (ad)