Champion arm wrestler arrested for allegedly peddling fake cancer cure: ‘The answer to cancer is known’

A professional arm wrestler has been arrested over accusations that he was selling a phony health product marketed as a cure for cancer. 

Jason Vale, 51, has spent several years marketing a product called "Apricots from God," which he claimed helped him combat the "most aggressive of the kidney cancers."

"The Answer to Cancer is known," Vale states on his website, which features videos of him arm wrestling and stories from his struggles with numerous ailments over the years. 

On Wednesday, Vale and his mother, Barbara Vale, were arrested by police in Queens, NY., on the basis of a 15-page complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York

Court documents state that the pair charged $250 for three-pound orders of apricot seeds, which they claimed had the ability to eliminate cancer cells. The concept stems from the belief that amygdalin (also known as laetrile), a chemical compound found in the pits of fruits like apricots, cherries, plums and peaches, can be used as a medical remedy.  

The human body converts amygdalin into cyanide as it processes the compound, which is why it's considered dangerous to eat a cherry that has had its pit broken. 

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These eight foods and drinks can contribute to cancer
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These eight foods and drinks can contribute to cancer

1. Processed meat

The World Health Organization places processed meat in the same category as tobacco smoking and asbestos when it comes to carcinogenicity. Although the three groups are not considered equally dangerous, processed meat has been proven to cause colorectal cancer. Studies show that "every 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18 [percent]," the U.N. agency notes.

Research has also found a connection between processed meat and stomach cancer, but the evidence is not conclusive. 

2. Salt-cured meat or fish

Salt-cured foods tend to have high levels of nitrates and nitrites, both of which react with amines and amides to form compounds that can lead to cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute

Moreover, research shows that "the more people eat of these foods the greater their chance of developing stomach cancer," Dr. Stephanie Fay wrote for World Cancer Research Fund International

3. Pickled foods

Much like salt-cured food, pickled foods contain a strong amount of nitrate and nitrate. A 2012 survey published by the American Association for Cancer Research revealed a direct correlation between the consumption of pickled vegetables and gastric cancer. Those of East Asian descent are particularly vulnerable to the disease since their diet heavily consists of pickled foods, the study said.  

4. Grilled food

Grilling food over an open flame creates heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, two types of chemicals that can cause changes in the DNA, thereby increasing the risk of cancer, the National Cancer Institute points out. Researchers determined that high consumption of well-done, fried or barbecued meats led to increased risks of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer. 

5. Microwave popcorn

Microwave popcorn contains a toxic compound called diacetyl, which can cause scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs and has been linked to lung cancer, Eitan Yefenof of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem told Reader's Digest.

The health threat actually comes from the popcorn bags, which contain chemicals that are suspected to cause cancer, according to Healthline. Those chemicals can also be found in pizza boxes, sandwich wrappers and Teflon pans. 

6. Alcohol

Heavy consumption of alcohol increases the risk of developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, breast, colon and rectum, says the National Cancer Institute. The U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 defines "heavy alcohol drinking" as "having 4 or more drinks on any day or 8 or more drinks per week for women and 5 or more drinks for men in one sitting (typically in about 2 hours)." Those who drink should do so in moderation (one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men). 

7. Bagels

As mouth-watering as bagels are, they're also a health risk, particularly for non-Hispanic whites. Bagels have a high glycemic index, which means that they can significantly raise blood sugar levels. Elevated blood sugar levels trigger the secretion of insulin, which, in turn, can influence the risk of lung cancer, according to a 2016 study published by the American Association for Cancer Research

8. Soda

Drinking carbonated beverages heavily can exacerbate the symptoms associated with cancer, such as gas, bloating, heartburn or reflux, according to Stacy Kennedy, a senior clinical nutritionist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

In addition, many soft drinks contain high fructose corn syrup, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Obesity itself has been linked to 13 different types of cancer, including breast, esophageal and endometrial cancers. 

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It's also the reason the Vales insisted their products contained cancer-curing remedies. Despite the fact that the National Cancer Institute states there is no evidence proving amygdalin is an effective cancer treatment, the pair's website praises the substances as a highly beneficial treatment, in addition to claiming it can help reduce pain and lower high blood pressure. 

In 2003, Jason Vale was arrested for making similar claims about the benefits of amygdalin, which led a criminal conviction and a 63-month jail sentence. Still, he continued to promote the apricot seeds as a cancer cure, launching the "Apricots from God" website with his mother in 2013. 

"When I ate the seeds, my tumor shrunk down and when I stopped eating the seeds the tumor grew," he said in a 2016 interview with The Verge

Vale's website made similar statements, including that they had seen a 90 percent success rate with their product. The "Apricots from God" website also features numerous testimonials from customers, many of which are written in Vale's words.  

"In 6 weeks he was completely CURED," Vale writes of one man, Vin Lidge, who he claims used the seeds to treat the "most aggressive of testicular cancers."

Court documents state that Vale and his mother collected more than $850,000 in payments over the course of the past seven years. Those sales led to FDA investigators starting a case against them, including making "undercover purchases" from the website starting last year. 

The Vales have yet to appear before a judge, during which time the full list of accusations against them will be outlined. As of now, any formal charges against them are not listed in the court documents. 

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