Is Alternative Medicine to Blame for the Death of Steve Jobs?


Although alternative medicine is a good compliment to conventional medical treatment, Steve Jobs' sole reliance on alternative medicine treatment may be the primary factor for his untimely death.

When doctors first discovered the tumor in his pancreas in 2003, Steve Jobs was told that, with immediate surgery, the tumor could be removed and he had a high possibility of being cured. Instead, the co-founder of Apple declined the surgery and focused on using alternative medicine to treat his disease. Harvard medical school researcher, Dr. Ramzi Amri, referred to Jobs’ death at age 56, “unnecessarily early” due to his reliance on alternative medicine.

Amri argued that Jobs reduced his chances of survival by resisting his doctors’ recommendations of immediate surgery after the 2003 diagnosis. “Given the circumstances it seems sound to assume that Mr. Jobs’ choice for alternative medicine could have led to an unnecessarily early death.” He added that based on his own research and other sources from biomedical research, the neuroendocrine tumor that Jobs was diagnosed with could have been cured had it not been for his decision to try alternative medicine.

Steve Jobs' Trust in Alternative Medicine Likely Shortened His Life, Researcher Contends [New York Daily News]

After nine months of undergoing alternative medicine treatments for his disease, Jobs decided to allow for the use of conventional medicine in July 2004 due to the size of his tumor increasing. Jobs practiced Buddhism and was reportedly skeptical about mainstream medicine, instead stubbornly believing in unconventional methods to cure his ailments. Still, Dr. Jeffrey A. Norton, chief of surgical oncology at Stanford University, stated, “surgery is the only treatment modality that can result in a cure.” Norton was the one who removed Jobs’ tumor but alternative forms of treatment, such as a specialized diet and different meditation exercises, could have ultimately cost Jobs his life.

Buddhist theories of medicine point to “three poisons” that cause people to get sick: greed, anger, and ignorance. Yet, why would a man who is so technologically-savvy as Steve Jobs be basing such important health decisions on ancient philosophies and natural remedies, especially when there have recently been more breakthroughs in cancer research than at any other point in history?

Did "Alternative Medicine" Kill Steve Jobs? []

In terms of his alternative medicine treatments, it is still not known what exactly Jobs did to treat his cancer. He did reportedly restrict his diet to only fruits or fruits and vegetables, consulted psychics, and tried a procedure known as hydrotherapy. Surgical removal of the tumor for patients whose disease is detected while it is still confined to the pancreas, have a five-year survival rate of 87 percent. Thus, the majority of patients live for quite a while.

It is impossible to know whether surgery would have cured Jobs of his disease but his alternative medicine techniques, like acupuncture, were “not enough to change the course of the disease,” says Dr. Lowell Kobrin, a medical doctor who now focuses on acupuncture and herbal medicine at Northbend Medical Center in Coos Bay, Oregon. Kobrin added that the therapy could not affect cancer itself. Tim Birdsall, vice president of integrative medicine at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, stated, “Once a cancer is established, in the vast majority of cases, simply changing the environment will not be sufficient to eradicate that established tumor.” While alternative medicine seems to be a beneficial compliment to conventional medicine, it cannot replace conventional medicine when trying to cure a dangerous disease.

Did Alternative Medicine Extend or Abbreviate Steve Jobs' Life? [Scientific American]

Due to Jobs’ form of pancreatic cancer being less lethal that the most common form of pancreatic cancer known as adenocarcinoma, many experts believe that his decision to wait before opting for surgery was not necessarily a bad idea. Julie Fleshman, president and chief executive officer of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, said that patients in Jobs’ situation don’t automatically have to rush treatment. “The length of time before you have to make a decision about your treatment is not as quick as someone whose been diagnosed with an adenocarcinoma,” she added.

Dr. Maged Rizk, a gastroenterologist at Cleveland Clinic, believed that Jobs waiting nine months for surgery was a bad decision. She said, “if it is an islet-cell tumor and the cells are [typical of early cancer], and as long as you don’t have symptoms, you can sit on it a bit.” Still, both Fleshman and Rizk agreed that alternative medicine treatments should not have been the sole methods of treatment for his disease.

Did Alternative Medicine Kill Steve Jobs? []

With the general consensus of medical experts being against the singular use of alternative medicine without conventional treatment, Steve Jobs agreed with them toward the end. Walter Isaacson, whose much-anticipated authorized biography on Jobs’ life is was released earlier this month, said that, before he died, the 56-year old Jobs had come to realize the mistake he made regarding his treatment. Isaacson said Jobs “wanted to talk about it, how he regretted it. I think he felt he should have been operated on [it] sooner.”

Jobs was pushed to embrace conventional medicine by many confidants, including his sister, Mona Simpson, and Art Levinson, an Apple board member. In the end, Jobs realized the mistake he made and regretted the decision he made to fight the disease that plagued him for so many years.

Steve Jobs 'Regretted Trying to Beat Cancer with Alternative Medicine for So Long' [The Telegraph]

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