A two-time national arm wrestling champion will need more than muscle to escape charges that he made $850,000 selling "the answer to cancer" online. Cancer survivor Jason Vale, 51, has long attributed his health and success to apricot seeds. In fact, this is his second bust over the issue. "I used it, shouted about it and then got thrown in prison for the sale of the legal food," he wrote on his website, Apricots from God, where he sold seeds for $18.95 a pound. He was alluding to his 2003 conviction on charges including intent to deceive the FDA and distribute laetrile, per the Washington Post. The substance found in fruit pits was used as a cancer treatment in the US in the 1920s despite "no anticancer activity in human clinical trials," according to the National Cancer Institute. It even warns laetrile toxicity can cause fever, liver damage, coma, and death.
Even after Vale served five years in prison and was ordered to stop selling the seeds, his website continued, describing "not one personal complaint and hundreds of individuals claiming victory over their illness." But at least one customer described "severe poisoning" causing vertigo and vomiting, according to a federal complaint. It alleges that Vale and his 77-year-old mother made $850,000 in the venture since 2013. Both were arrested at Barbara Vale's home in Queens on Wednesday, where investigators say they found drums of an unspecified liquid deemed to be a hazardous material, per WABC. Jason was taken to a hospital for unclear reasons, while Barbara was released on a $100,000 bond. Her other son, Jared, then talked up the seeds to NBC New York. "I have warts on my hand, I took them the other day, the warts are almost gone," he said. (Read more cancer stories.)