Notes from the Cancer Underground: Participation in the Laetrile Movement

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
James C. Petersen, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Abstract: The most active component of the "cancer underground" is the Laetrile movement which has developed around a controversial and officially condemned anti-cancer drug. In this paper we examine the social context of the Laetrile movement and report findings from questionnaires completed by 252 participants at a Cancer Control Society symposium where national leaders of the Laetrile movement spoke. The Laetrile movement is characterized by a unique ideology: a blend of belief in the overriding importance of nutrition, opposition to orthodox medicine, officially denounced health beliefs, and right-wing politics. Our data show that people who participate in the Laetrile movement have attitude and behaviors consistent with that ideology: they believed in the efficacy of vitamins in preventing and treating disease, negatively evaluated M.D.s, regularly shopped at health food stores, and disapproved of the fluoridation of public water supplies. We speculate that the Laetrile movement will become increasingly active and popular unless and until orthodox medicine can effectively control and treat cancer.

Additional Information

Social Science and Medicine, January, 1978, 12: 31-37
Language: English
Date: 1978
cancer underground, Laetrile, ideology, social context

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