Fake News: Cannabis Oil And Vitamin "B17" Do NOT Destroy Cancer Cells

Hoax Alert

  • by: Ryan Cooper

Do cannabis oil and vitamin "B17" destroy cancer cells? No, that's not true: The meme being shared by "Truth Teller" is false. Quite apart from the fact that vitamin "B17" does not exist, a year ago, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sounded an alarm about misleading or false claims online that suggested cannabis could treat cancer.

The claims originated from a meme (archived here) published by Truth Teller on January 21, 2018, under the title "Can someone explain this?" It opened:

Cannabis oil destroys cancer cells
Vitamin B17 destroys cancer cells
Both are banned by the FDA
Can someone explain this shit?!

Screenshot of https://www.facebook.com/TruthTeller29/photos/a.278841195503245/1578127962241222/?type=3&theater

Users on social media saw this:

The meme has received hundreds of thousands of shares along with thousands of comments and engagements since it was first posted in 2018. However, it contains two falsehoods.

First, researchers at the NIH deny that there's a link between cannabis and a cure for cancer. In a paper published in the January 2019, issue of the medical journal, Cureus, the authors said:

Recent claims that cannabis can treat serious health conditions such as cancer have proliferated online, raising concerns within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the oncology community [1]. These claims represent misleading or 'false news' [2], without basis in the medical literature [3]. Although cannabis and its derivatives may help to alleviate disease- and therapy-related symptoms, there is no clinical evidence of its anti-cancer efficacy [4].

Also, on January 13, 2017, Snopes debunked the claim that vitamin "B17" can help remedy cancer. The site noted that the assertion is troubling on its surface because no such vitamin actually exists. Some people refer to it by another name, amygdalin, according to WebMD:

Amygdalin is a compound found in the pits or seeds of apricots, apples, peaches, plums, red cherries, and other fruits. It's also in bitter almonds.

A partly man-made, purified form of amygdalin, known as Laetrile, was patented in the 1950s and became a popular alternative cancer treatment during the 1960s and '70s. It's now banned by the FDA and hasn't been available in the U.S. since 1980.

The meme correctly claimed that the Food & Drug Administration had banned both substances.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:


  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Read more about or contact Ryan Cooper

About us

International Fact-Checking Organization

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Follow us on social media

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion