October 14, 2011

"Steve Jobs would probably be alive today if he had not put off conventional medical treatment in favour of alternative remedies..."

According to Dr Ramzi Amri, of Harvard Medical School:
He added that as Mr Jobs had comparatively mild neuroendocrine tumors, compared to the far more aggressive pancreatic adenocarcinoma tumours that 95 per cent of pancreatic cancer sufferers have.

He wrote: 'In my series of patients, for many subtypes, the survival rate was as high as 100 per cent over a decade.'
Ah, yes, remember in Steve Jobs's Stanford graduation speech (from 2005), he talks about learning that he had a tumor on his pancreas?
The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months...

Later that evening I had a biopsy...  I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. 
We kept reading that he had a rare form of cancer. But rare was good. The doctor cried with joy when he suddenly saw that — against the odds — the cancer wasn't the kind that was almost certain to kill him. According to Amri, for that kind of cancer "the survival rate was as high as 100 per cent over a decade."

Here we are, mourning our loss of a genius, and the genius (apparently) fell for the monumental stupidity of "alternative" medicine.

Take a lesson, people.

111 comments:

Nonapod said...

Human beings (especially "geniuses")are amazing at making bad decisions. We're pretty gifted that way.

rhhardin said...

Alternative remedies only cure the aggressive kind of cancer.

Bob Ellison said...

monumental stupidity of "alternative" medicine

Excellent! Sing it!

JimMuy said...

What he needed was a rare-earth magnet bracelet . . . .

I've never understood the stupidity behind "alternative" medicine. It's as though they've convinced themselves that modern medicine somehow sprung wholly formed from the head of Zeus. Rather than being built on hundreds of years of careful study of what works and refining such into more efficient and potent remedies.

'Course all the hippies will dismiss this doctor because he's part of the evil big-pharma/big medicine cabal. Who make money on keeping us sick.

Fred4Pres said...

Crack has been warning against this stuff.

Simon Kenton said...

Interesting that the alternative-health-care types rely with complete trust on "western medicine" to diagnose them, and then contemptuously reject it in favor of grass stems, seed pods, and piss drinking for actual treatment.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

That's very interesting, and the larger picture (that really smart people often make really dumb decisions) is certainly true. That said, pancreatic cancer is a brutal killer, and having a rare type, even if it's more treatable, still limits your options (since the rareity would make the treatments less known, tested, and available), so I'm somewhat skeptical that he could have lived longer than he did. He lived a long time (for any type of cancer patient who doesn't acheive full remission) after his diagnosis.

- Lyssa

PaulV said...

Jobs had much in common with Howard Hughes.

TWM said...

So he was not only an iGenius, but an iDumbass . . .

exhelodriver said...

"the genius (apparently) fell for the monumental stupidity of "alternative" medicine.

Take a lesson, people. "

Yeah - don't vote for Obama again.

Fred4Pres said...

That is a sad story about Steve Jobs. While I thought he was a genius for what he was really good at, marketing, he is certainly no medical genius.

I have seen this before. People who are really good and successful at something (computers for exampe) and think that makes them good and successful at everything (construction/development, investing, law, etc., etc.). In fact, it makes them easier marks for grifters.

Robert Cook said...

I was just thinking to myself last week that Jobs probably sealed his own fate when he received his original diagnosis and waited for months before consenting to surgery.

And, if, as the writer here asserts, Jobs did not follow up with many of the normal protocols for post-surgical treatment of cancer, one has to conclude that Jobs simply refused to believe he could die from this illness, and in this belief, likely insured he would.

We all have a great capacity for "denial."

Irene said...

He "fell for the monumental stupidity of 'alternative' medicine."

I thought the same thing about Farah Fawcett when she flew off to Germany for some new treatment. But she was not sanctified as a genius.

Nonsense about diet, health, and religion knows no IQs.

Lem said...

Crack bait..

I read about that here last night..

Is this as 'peverse' as a schadenfreude gets?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

When I had colon cancer I pretty much consigned myself to the doctors. I really felt like I was just along for the ride. It was liberating. Whenever the docs said they wanted to do something, I just said "OK then". No agonizing over decisions. Ten years later I'm doing just fine.

Ann Althouse said...

"Crack has been warning against this stuff."

It's not as if he's the first person to bring up the subject. This has been a well-known problem since at least 1980 when Steve McQueen died:

"... McQueen sought a very non-traditional treatment that used coffee enemas, frequent shampoos, injection of live cells from cows and sheep, massage and laetrile, a supposedly "natural" anti-cancer drug available in Mexico, but not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_McQueen

And I don't even want to talk about the member of my family who had just about all the warning signs of cancer but assured us that her doctor said is was just the effects of aging and what it was like when I found out the doctor was a homeopath.

This was all pre-Crack, so I actually do not appreciate Crack's behaving as if he's the first/only person crying out about the fakery of alternative medicine. Crack's work would be a lot better if he showed respect for other people as he carries on his efforts.

Tim said...

"Here we are, mourning our loss of a genius, and the genius (apparently) fell for the monumental stupidity of "alternative" medicine.

Take a lesson, people."


Indeed. Genius often falls into the trap of thinking itself smarter than conventional wisdom, even in areas outside of its expertise.

exhelodriver said...

"the genius (apparently) fell for the monumental stupidity of "alternative" medicine.

Take a lesson, people. "

Yeah - don't vote for Obama again."


Correct.

Doctor, heal thyself.

Richard Dolan said...

"Here we are, mourning our loss of a genius, and the genius (apparently) fell for the monumental stupidity of 'alternative' medicine."

The source, Dr. Amri, was not part of the team of doctors treating Jobs, and so a healthy (!) dose of skepticism is in order. It's not unusual to hear after-the-fact carping in an professional situation, and it always has the virtue of being untested and untestable. If Jobs had opted for standard treatment and died, you would have seen the same article quoting some other doctor about the treatment that would have done the trick, if only.

A friend (a federal judge) died recently of pancreatic cancer. He consulted doctors at Columbia/NY Hospital, Memorial SK and Mt Sinai Hospital (among others). As the disease progressed, the treatment recommendations diverged. Some doctors wanted to stick to the standard protocols; others recommended variations; and others recommended more experimental treatments. You make the best choices you can, based on what you can figure out and who you trust most. Presumably that's what Jobs did.

Who knows, perhaps Dr. Amri is right. Not that it matters much to Jobs.

Irene said...

"I really felt like I was just along for the ride. It was liberating. Whenever the docs said they wanted to do something, I just said 'OK then'. No agonizing over decisions."

That's exactly the approach I took.

Tim said...

"Crack's work would be a lot better if he showed respect for other people as he carries on his efforts."

It's surpassingly difficult to respect people engaged in surpassingly stupid things.

Kit said...

News flash: yes, none of us are perfect. For a guy who could have afforded any treatment, maybe it's as simple as him having an aversion to doctors. Time may tell.

As for alternative medicine, I believe it has it's place. Perhaps not here, but many of it's practices have been around a lot longer than modern medicine. There's something there if it's been used for ages, though I don't think either's got a corner on the healing market.

ic said...

survival rate 100% over a decade (+/-)

Jobs survived 100% for eight years, pretty much a decade.

Fred4Pres said...

Ann, Didn't Steve McQueen go through all the traditional western medicine that was not working and then started to go for the alternative stuff as a last resort? Same with Andy Kaufman going to the Philippines and Michael Landon drinking apple-carrot juice smoothies. That I get and I feel sorry for those people.

But to pass up the conventional medicine (which has an objective scientific basis) and go straight to crazy? That is the part I find disturbing.

YoungHegelian said...

This isn't going to end well for Apple.

As a publicly traded company, Apple has a responsibility to inform its shareholders of any matter that might affect the company. The health of the company's lead executives is just such a matter.

It now appears that Steve Jobs denial & intransigence hastened his demise. The stockholders were led to believe that Jobs cancer was treatable, and was being treated according to medical standard of care. This wasn't true.

It also appears to be the case that Jobs had his subordinates at Apple so cowed that no one could call him on this bullshit. Hell, no one even leaked it to the trade press.

Steve Jobs wanted to live and die in peace and privacy. I understand that. But that's not the way life goes for a CEO of a publicly traded firm. Expect shareholder suits before this is all over.

madAsHell said...

Nothing heals like a coffee enema.

MarkG said...

You really have to make your own decisions and trust your own instincts. There are a lot of screw-ups in conventional medicine also.

Bob Ellison said...

Kit said: "As for alternative medicine, I believe it has it's place. Perhaps not here, but many of it's practices have been around a lot longer than modern medicine. There's something there if it's been used for ages, though I don't think either's got a corner on the healing market."

This kind of thinking is the problem. The logic seems to be "some people believe in it and have for a long time, so it must be true". The scientific method, which actually works, rejects this kind of faith-based assumption, which does not.

Fred4Pres said...

And I am not anti alternative medicine. Accupuncture actually works for pain management. So does meditation (and it does help as a mental palative too).

But the smart person gets the best cancer doctors they can afford and find and gets on an agressive treatment plan right away. They get smart on all the options. And they actively participate in their treatment.

Steve Jobs made the wrong decision here. A Newton Message Pad decision. And it cost him his life.

roesch-voltaire said...

Which doctor are you to believe? With cancer you make the best choices you can based on various recommendations-- Are we to blame all the genius types who had their prostrate removed by robotic surgery and were left impotent, vs those who went to Canada for alternative treatments using HIFU treatments and are still able to pee?

Fred4Pres said...

Now excuse me, its mornign and I need my coffee enema.

Fred4Pres said...

Crack and Trooper are the best commentators here. Have you noticed both of them are not around?

Ann Althouse said...

"A friend (a federal judge) died recently of pancreatic cancer. He consulted doctors at Columbia/NY Hospital, Memorial SK and Mt Sinai Hospital (among others). As the disease progressed, the treatment recommendations diverged. Some doctors wanted to stick to the standard protocols; others recommended variations; and others recommended more experimental treatments. You make the best choices you can, based on what you can figure out and who you trust most. Presumably that's what Jobs did."

Did the judge have the rare form of pancreatic cancer, the kind that Amri treats with a 100% success rate?

Also, the doctors with different treatment ideas are still within the realm of science, so that's not saying anything about the decision to depart from the medical profession and go with alternative ideas that aren't based on science.

jerryofva said...

It does not suprise me that he would think he was smarter then the conventiona practitioners who recommended standard protocols. He identified with the alternative medicine providers because they were like him, fighting "the Machine." They were playing Apple to "big medicine's" Microsoft. Of course he was going to go with the quacks.

Sixty Grit said...

Steve McQueen inhaled too much asbestos. That is a one way trip to mesothelioma.

Jobs - meh, who cares - a billionaire who thought he knew it all. He didn't. Made it to 56, not a bad run, all things considered.

The doctor spells favor with a "u". Nice. Does he know that Harvard is in the US?

Triangle Man said...

Jobs delayed surgery for nine months, but the surgery would not have been performed if there was evidence that the tumor had spread during that interval.

Dr. Amri's public speculation about Job's treatment is unseemly.

ndspinelli said...

How dare him do with his own body as he wishes!!! We libertarians are an endangered species..maybe we can get on a license plate.

Triangle Man said...

The doctor spells favor with a "u". Nice. Does he know that Harvard is in the US?

It's a British paper you nitwit.

Lem said...

"Alternative" medicine has been known to work on aging, slow-footed, American League DH's..

Steven said...

RIP Dennis Ritchie, co-creator of C and Unix, the fundamental software technologies behind Mac OS X and iOS. And Linux, Solaris, Java, Android, QNX, most Windows programming, and, well, pretty much the entire Internet.

Dead Wednesday, at age 70.

Ann Althouse said...

And from the linked article:

"For nine months between his diagnosis in 2003 and at least July 2004, Mr Jobs 'decided to employ alternative methods to treat his pancreatic cancer, hoping to avoid the operation through a special diet ', according to a 2008 CNN Money article."

That wasn't just real doctors diverging about treatment. That was a delay of surgery, the standard treatment, to try to cure cancer with diet.

And by the way, my grandmother tried to cure cancer with diet, circa 1970. At the time, we considered it the old-fashioned fear of doctors. That was before "alternative medicine" acquired some trendiness, through various celebrities.

I remember reading about the Zen macrobiotic diet around that time (1970). I had a book that said things like "cancer is easy to cure." Every disease was proclaimed easy to cure. All you had to do was follow the diet, balance the yin and yang of the foods. Things like potatoes, tomatoes, and string beans were so yin you were supposed to regard them as poison. We laughed about it back then.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Crack's work would be a lot better if he showed respect for other people as he carries on his efforts.

Crack discovers New Ageism in the most innocent of human occupations. He hates its insidious hold on weak minds, and then tries to push people around who stray from his orthodoxy. Crack is a bigot, and damaged goods to boot.

jerryofva said...

R-V:

While it is true that Canadian men may have better sex lives after their treatments but they die shortly afterwards. Men in the US have about a 20% better chance of long term survival then Canadians.
Given that most prostate cancers occur in men who reach the age where sex is few and far between what is the ability to get laid worth that you would prefer full functionality and death to a longer life?

jerryofva said...

R-V:

While it is true that Canadian men may have better sex lives after their treatments but they die shortly afterwards. Men in the US have about a 20% better chance of long term survival then Canadians.
Given that most prostate cancers occur in men who reach the age where sex is few and far between what is the ability to get laid worth that you would prefer full functionality and death to a longer life?

Sixty Grit said...

Thanks, TriMan - I was not about to read any more of that drivel than necessary. The Brits keep butchering our language and there is nothing we can do about it.

Richard Dolan said...

"Did the judge have the rare form of pancreatic cancer, the kind that Amri treats with a 100% success rate?"

No, it was quite agressive. Even with standard medicine, the point is that treatment recommendations vary, and experimental treatments sometimes seem like the best choice. In that situation, every doctor is convinced that his protocol is the best; they can't all be right. So you have to choose.

And, surely, your skepto-meter is flashing big time when you write "100% success rate." It's like trial lawyers telling you they always get an acquittal or appellate lawyers a reversal. Deep skepticism is in order.

Triangle Man said...

The Brits keep butchering our language and there is nothing we can do about it.

Agreed. The nerve of them!

viator said...

Many of these same people also believe the world is warming, we are in the age of peak oil, the cure for debt is debt, vaccinations are bad for you, the first Green revolution was harmful, only the left believes in science, free markets are bad, open trade is bad, and many other notions harmful in the long term to themselves and others.

traditionalguy said...

The other lesson here is that the wait times imposed by design under a National Health Care system and its planned shortages will kill you when medicine is needed immediately.

That blunt truth is what created the Tea Party uprising.

Fred4Pres said...

As for Steve McQueen, we know what killed him. It was smoking for years and wearing asbestos race car suits. The combination of smoking and asbestos is deadly. Your chances of cancer with either are six times higher. Your chances of cancer with both are thirty six times higher.

Fred4Pres said...

Crack just gives you the truth. Most of you just can't handle it.

Shouting Thomas said...

I don't know if these things are so easy to decide, even when you put yourself in the hands of the reputable scientific practitioner.

The thing you often fail to observe, Althouse, is that even incredibly rational, scientific medical people fall victim to self-interest.

The first doctor we saw when it became clear something was seriously wrong with my wife was an oncologist (female) who said:

There's nothing you can do. All I can prescribe is palliative care. Get ready to die.

As soon as my wife was hospitalized, one oncologist after another showed up offering to heroically cure her. Later, I discovered that what they really meant was that they might be able to keep her alive for a few more weeks or months via radical, disfiguring surgery.

We gave in and listened to one oncologist for a few weeks. In retrospect, his real motivation was the $750 he charged every time he walked into Myrna's room for three minutes and palpated her belly.

When you're dealing with your own or a loved one's death, rationalism often flies out the window.

The second time they tried to wheel Myrna into surgery, the surgeon took me aside and said:

I'll do it if you insist. But, it's just butchery.

With Myrna agreement, I pulled the plug.

The dissenting oncologist called me later that night to complain and accuse me of being heartless.

When all the bills came in, the insurance paid for everything except the first oncologist we visited... the one who told us bluntly that it was hopeless.

I gladly wrote a check to her. She told me the truth.

Fred4Pres said...

You can have many different cancer treatments and it may turn out regardless of which track you take you are going to die of it. All you can do is educate yourself and do your best.

Lem said...

Crack just gives you the truth. Most of you just can't handle it.

They cant handle the Crack..

Shouting Thomas said...

The moral of that story, Althouse, in case you missed it is that the smartest, most scientific people in the world can be misled by self-interest.

Doctors are subject to this too.

You don't know what happened in private between Jobs and his doctor.

phx said...
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phx said...
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jamboree said...

From what I heard he went on a special diet with his friend, Dr. Dean Ornish, while being monitored by regular medical supervision. When it didn't work, he had the Whipple and was supposedly cancer-free for a few years until it returned.

In any case I find the tone of the accusations from people with agendas and no access to his medical records a little disquieting.

When his widow (or biography) comes out with first-hand information and warnings, then I'll believe that we have the full story. Until then, no one really knows what he did or didn't do.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...

Last week Paladian raked me over the coals with the snark that I was "so above it" because I refused to go along quietly with that long and loud train of mourners bewailing the loss of the greatest genius of the age.

Turns out I was more above it than he knew.

Self-approbation routine;
Return 0;
Stop;

edutcher said...

The Blonde (5 years in oncology) believes alternative treatments have their place (she's always throwing her family remedies at me), but draws a line at the far-out stuff. The established way, she thinks, is usually going to be the best.

Steven said...

RIP Dennis Ritchie, co-creator of C and Unix, the fundamental software technologies behind Mac OS X and iOS. And Linux, Solaris, Java, Android, QNX, most Windows programming, and, well, pretty much the entire Internet.

Dead Wednesday, at age 70.


I put that in last night's cafe, but, by all means, his work can't be memorialized enough.

PatCA said...

I guess prickly geniuses want to stay in control. Nothing is more of a challenge to one's sense of control than cancer.

zt said...

The tumor was first diagnosed in 2003, so he was only 1 year and a few months away from the 10-year mark anyway.

MadisonMan said...

This discussion underscores the importance of advanced medical directives. I don't know if I'd want a long drawn-out battle with cancer (my family history suggests I will not), but it's something to think about before you're faced with the decision, and stories like ShoutingThomas' are good to read.

My own experience with my parents' various ailments is that doctors give wildly divergent paths to take, and it is a special skill to navigate the 'best' one. You get all the information you can, you make your decision, and you don't look back. Kinda like voting.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

(etc)

FloridaSteve said...

I find it interesting that often the same people who claim that the "science" is "settled" on things like Global warming are also the same folks who advocate the snakeoil world of alternative medicine.

X said...

when we have single-payer either we'll all be paying for homeopaths or we won't be, both of which will be unfair.

caplight said...

Jobs isn't the only smart person to seek Alternative Medicine. A good article from a recent Atlantic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/the-triumph-of-new-age-medicine/8554/

Freeman Hunt said...

That's too bad.

I wonder if he watched someone else battle cancer. It's unbelievably brutal. Having watched someone else battle cancer myself, I can see how someone could be lured into alternative medicine. A very smart person could convince himself that it would be an escape from the conventional cancer fighting crucible.

Resist, then, the lure!

Curious George said...

"Take a lesson, people."

Done. I hope I kept the receipt for my Eye of Newt.

Roger J. said...

The article Lem posted has what I believe is very good advice:
"But there is also, thankfully, a much clearer and easier lesson for patients in Jobs's experience: Do not waste time. Don't waste time by ignoring advice to get screened; don't waste time by drowning yourself in research about your condition; and don't waste time by delaying medically recommended treatment in the hops that something else will work."

I want to highlight screening. During my routine PSA screenings my PSA had gone from zero to 34 in 16 months--Biopsy was positive. I had a stage 3 gleason score 7 cancer and I opted for a TURP.

Underwent radiation and even after that I still have prostate cancer.

Screenings are important, although some "experts" advise against PSA screenings, arguing that the high rate of false positives lead to unnecessary and costly interventions.

My point: when cost calculations enter the picture (eg, the Oregon Health Plan, and probably Obama care) your health may be in jeopardy. Nothing replaces the counsel of medical experts and the personal responsibility of the patient to listen, understand and evaluate. It is a decision best made by the patient and his or her physician.

If I had foregone screenings I would be dead. Ignore advice to be screened, especially in the case of prostate cancer, and you jeopardize your life.

My .02

jamboree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...

Ann wrote:
It's not as if he's the first person to bring up the subject. This has been a well-known problem since at least 1980 when Steve McQueen died...

Very true, and yet the myths persist, especially along the fringes of academy, an institution which holds itself to a guardian of rational inquiry. Every college town in this country has become a haven for herbalists, acupuncturists, aroma therapists, chakra cleansers, and assorted holistic "healers", some of the worst offenders serve the Berkeley community, a campus noted for cutting-edge research. The contrast and contradiction are gigantic. Madison isn't immune either. Check the classifieds.

Modern medicine (and by modern you may read real) dates from Pasteur, a scant 150 years, everyone alive has spent his whole life in the Age of Medicine, yet the self-righteous and comfortable reject what preserved their parents long enough to rear them and set them the on the road to that comfort and fork money to mountebanks and fools. It's true Crack uses overheated rhetoric, but what has cool reason done to dissuade the self-deluded?

edutcher said...

The Blonde just about freaked when she learned he'd had a Whipple.

A Whipple removes everything not absolutely needed, so he probably had more than just his pancreas and duodenum removed.

Robert Cook said...

"Crack and Trooper are the best commentators here."

Hahahahahahaha!

While Trooper is just another of the preponderance of benighted lackwits who congregate here, not apparently less or more ignorant than most, Crack is just wack! No two ways about it.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Fred4Pres said...

Crack just gives you the truth. Most of you just can't handle it


Oh bullshit. I'm just about as skeptical of New Age crap as Crack. I just don't go around trying to shove it down everyone's throat.

ginnad said...

Steve Job's cancer and the claim that he would be alive today if he didn't believe in "woo" was pretty thoroughly examined over at Science Based Medicine.

The conclusion? There's not enough evidence either way. "One has to be very, very careful about making this sort of argument. For one thing, it could not have been apparent that it was “too late” back in 2004, when it became clear that Jobs’ dietary manipulations weren’t working. For another thing, we don’t know how large the tumor was, whether it progressed or simply failed to shrink over those nine months, and by how much it increased in size, if increase in size it did."

Quaestor said...

Robert Cook wrote:
[J]ust another of the preponderance of benighted lackwits who congregate here...

Cook pointedly excludes himself. Why does he not go somewhere else, someplace frequented by other philosopher-kings? Because of his beneficence, dont'cha know? We're all clients of the Cookie Peace Corps. Pretty soon we'll learn to fish and farm instead of probing termite mounds with moistened sticks.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

From what I remember at the time, Steve McQueen was judged to be terminal. He didn't really have anything to lose by going with alternative medicines, except for a pile of money.

madAsHell said...

Holy Cow!

Dennis Ritchie is dead?? I make a living working with the tools/technology he left behind.

...but we had to memorialize some crackpot lawyer that found racism in alphabet soup!!

Martha said...

Susan Sontag, another genius, did not believe she would die and so subjected herself to every and any cutting edge medical procedure in a heroic attempt to live.

We are all capable of deluding ourselves.

A. Shmendrik said...

The McQueen situation isn't a great comparison to this information on Jobs. McQueen went to UCLA Medical Center and was evaluated and told that Mesothelioma was fatal. That was true back in late 1979 when he learned it, and I think it is still true today. So he pursued traditional medicine first, they just didn't have any thing to offer him.

He went through a lot of things that one would do given a death sentence (married a young babe model, etc.) but eventually sought help, very late in the game, from the "alternative" treatment supplier - who happened to be a licensed dentist in the US and operated a clinic in Mexico. What killed McQueen was a routine post operative blood clot, less than 24 hours after surgery to remove tumor masses (yech!) If not for that, it's not clear how long he would have survived. The clinic claimed that the treatments (coffee enemas, the usual phony baloney exotic diets, etc.) were working, but there is nothing to back that up.

Quaestor said...

"One has to be very, very careful about making this sort of argument..."

True, but this is not an argument in favor of "woo". The point is Job's rejection of real medicine in favor of -- what to call it? -- quackery at best was only harmless, but likely shortened his life.

sonicfrog said...

I just posted this on my Facebook page... and I'm going to get HELL from my liberal brother and niece!

One thing I do find interesting is this very unscientific observation.... Liberals love to call Conservatives unscientific, mainly because Conservatives tend to give Creationism some weight, and have skeptical views of Global Warming. Meanwhile, it seems to me that it is liberals who are much more likely to eschew scientifically proven medical treatments for various alternative "cures" and remedies.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a blanket statement, but, in my experience, of the people I know personally and of things I've read of certain people supporting this or that "anti-scientific" position, it does seem to be the case.

I think there was a study or report / article about this very thing that came out a few weeks ago.

Quaestor said...

Simon Kenton wrote:
Interesting that the alternative-health-care types rely with complete trust on "western medicine" to diagnose them, and then contemptuously reject it in favor of grass stems, seed pods, and piss drinking for actual treatment.

A brilliant observation! Mr. Kenton deserves the laurels for this thread. The next time an acquaintance of mine opts for some form of New Age quackery I'm going to borrow this argument hoping it helps turn them back to reason. Unfortunately the function of cognitive dissonance is especially strong in this realm.

traditionalguy said...

Another example of Herman Cain being smarter than the occult loving Baby Boomers.

Herman is a traditionalist born before the Boomers were begat.

Herman went to the best Cancer Specialists (M. D. Anderson) and did what the told him to do.

A smart man gets many smart advisers and listens to them. He listened to a group of his intelligent friends when he was in need of advice...and he is alive and well today.

Ann Althouse said...

"The McQueen situation isn't a great comparison to this information on Jobs. McQueen went to UCLA Medical Center and was evaluated and told that Mesothelioma was fatal. That was true back in late 1979 when he learned it, and I think it is still true today. So he pursued traditional medicine first, they just didn't have any thing to offer him."

I know. That is an important difference. He was spending money on things that may have helped by giving him hope when it was hopeless, while Jobs, if the report is true, delayed a treatment that would have helped more if he'd had it earlier.

I brought up McQueen to make the point that alternative medicine quackery has been prominently featured in news stories since at least 1980.

jimbino said...

Job's unnecessary early death is a lesson for all of us: no matter how bright you are, no matter how rich, no matter your high-tech access to worldwide information, the medical/drug industry in conspiracy with the government will kill you.

CyndiF said...

Accupuncture actually works for pain management.

Acupuncture works as a placebo effect. I'm amazed how many people believe in manipulation of energy meridians in the body in the absence of any evidence for their existence.

witzall said...

My rheumatologist brother took some acupuncture 'courses' when he was stationed in SF.He never found it useful for pain relief in his later practice,but in at least two cases, it did relieve crippling 'phantom limb' pain for amputees .

traditionalguy said...

The alternative therapies and herbal cures are sold the same way Ron Paul's advice is sold.

The first step is to convince the customer "he cannot trust the medical and Pharma conspiracy."

So whatever they tell him, they are lying. (Lawyers get this same crap from home remedy sellers of legal documents and living trusts)

That trick works off of human's pride and stubbornness.

The result is usually a curse on them and their descendants.



"

sonicfrog said...

Acupuncture works as a placebo effect. I'm amazed how many people believe in manipulation of energy meridians in the body in the absence of any evidence for their existence.

Yep.

I've had acupuncture. I wasn't in pain. A friend who practiced wanted me to try it. It was kind of cool, and I did get an interesting feeling. But even then I realized it was more my own state of mind that produced the effect.

That said, pain can be a very difficult thing to treat. If you are a sufferer of chronic pain, and this does seem to ease the pain for you, distracts you and helps you feel less pain... I have absolutely no problem acu-p being used in this fashion. Where I draw the line is when they, and chiropractors for that matter claim that it cures diseases and medical conditions.

Triangle Man said...

@Roger J

Every guy who had treatment for prostate cancer after a positive PSA test thinks that the PSA screening saved their life. Recommendations against PSA screening are not about financial cost of the test or treatment. They are about the ineffectiveness of PSA screening. The true cost is to the thousands of men who receive unnecessary treatment and end up impotent and incontinent.

Triangle Man said...

Acupuncture works as a placebo effect. I'm amazed how many people believe in manipulation of energy meridians in the body in the absence of any evidence for their existence.

This is probably true, but interesting that something like acupuncture would "work" as a placebo and just thinking to yourself "go away pain" does not. There are clearly some ways to access these functions of our brain that work better than others.

Rick said...

High-Tech Tools Show How Acupuncture Works in Treating Arthritis, Back Pain, Other Ills

Decoding an Ancient Therapy

mariner said...

How much do you know about what treatments Jobs underwent or declined?

Roger J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger J. said...

Triangle man: your post is noted; however, it overlooks the entire diagnostic process after an elevated PSA and prior to some surgical procedure. And the PSA test does have a high rate of false positives as I noted in my post

Your post implies that a high PSA leads to surgeries and bad outcomes. That view overlooks the diagostic process following an elevated PSA including: prostate biopsy, admittedly instrusive and painful, followed by a pathological analysis of the biopsied cells which confirms or negates the diagnosis. Path results are usually conclusive. The you may undergo bone scan, cat scan and bladder exam to see if the cancer has mestascized. Only then can you really know what you are facing. At that point the surgery or procedures of which you speak may be indicated, followed by discussion with your urologist about consequences.

Your posted snipped was woefully incomplete and misleading. But by all means if you want to forego PSA testing be my guest. It is your choice.

Matt said...

Wait, so Republicans are trying to now believe in the value of science and medicine? What happened to skepticism of science?

Eric said...

Triangle man: your post is noted; however, it overlooks the entire diagnostic process after an elevated PSA and prior to some surgical procedure.

Most prostate cancers are very slow growing, so it's not clear surgery is the right course of action even for people who have a positive biopsy. By age 80 the majority of men have prostate cancer, but realistically they aren't going to live long enough to die from it.

Triangle Man is right on one point - you know you have cancer, but you can't know what the course of the disease would have been if it was never detected.

This is part of the debate we had over Obamacare - the Europeans tend to do a whole lot less testing than we do, and they seem to live just as long. It seems that for many types of cancer early detection just doesn't increase longevity in any statistically meaningful way.

Ralph L said...

Yeah Matt, we're all about partisan politics, all the time. I get my medical advice faxed to me from the RNC.

My step-mother, a retired RN and math teacher, has spent a fortune of my dad's money and her own on every quack she can find. She thought she was dying until she had all her fillings replaced. My sister diagnosed her main problem as Munchausen's syndrome, but decades of prescription drug abuse has actually ruined her health.

My mother, grandfather, and great-grandmother all had the bad kind of pancreatic cancer. It's tough to diagnose before it has spread to the liver, and difficult to remove surgically, because the organ doesn't have a "wall", it adheres to surrounding tissue. Because her father had gone home from the exploratory surgery and just waited to die, my mother had regular chemo, radiation and then aggressive chemo, which shut down her body before the cancer could.

Eric said...

Wait, so Republicans are trying to now believe in the value of science and medicine? What happened to skepticism of science?

Skepticism just means Republicans evaluate claims based on the source and quality of the data instead of just taking it as received wisdom like Democrats do.

Ralph L said...

It seems that for many types of cancer early detection just doesn't increase longevity in any statistically meaningful way.
But for breast, colon, melanoma, and others, early detection is everything. Some prostate cancers do spread quickly in less-elderly men.

Matt said...

The comment by lyssalovelyredhead is correct. Pancreatic cancer is very difficult to survive. So it is just as likely that the alternative treatment helped him live longer.

Note that the link in this post is one doctor's opinion, which has become a meme of sorts for those skeptical of alternative approaches to medicinee. But we don't really know all the facts of Job's cancer. In most of the articles I have found there are doctors who say that both traditional medicine and alternative approaches can work together to - at the very least - ease the suffering.

Calling Jobs 'stupid' because he chose an alternative route is a bit much. One, because the cancer is very difficult to survive and two, because he didn't only choose the alternative route.

The Crack Emcee said...

To Fred4Prez, thanks for the kind words, it means a lot.

Next, I'll point out the main dissenters from Fred's opinion are the usual rabble - Tyrone and Cookie - two guys who, even on their good days, are rarely consistent or coherent.

As far as not being around, part of that is finding a job I kind of like (!) and the other part IS what I've seen occurring here.

Lately it's how many times will Ann trot out that "sober, rational reasons" line about Oprah/Obama (among others) before dealing with the fact that, I'm sure, Steve Jobs had many "sober, rational reasons" for doing this NEWAGE thing, too, but that still doesn't mean the man wasn't taken in by a massive fraud. His single death is now affecting trillions of people worldwide who loved him, admired him, and even relied on him to help show us a clear way forward.

I see all such deaths in multiple ways depending on circumstance - cultism, belief systems, a culling of the stupid, farce, frauds and cons, etc., but ALWAYS as family tragedies, or merely tragedy. Because. They. Didn't. Have. To. Happen. "I don't even want to talk about" how it still feels to lose what I have to this, or what it's like, for instance, to talk to my God Kids about why "everything's different now." Knowing my views, anybody want to tackle that one for me? This idiocy has a lasting effect.

Ralph L,

My step-mother, a retired RN and math teacher, has spent a fortune of my dad's money and her own on every quack she can find.

I've written about the problem in the nursing community. The whole NewAge Rogerian cult thing is a menace. We have a serious NewAge problem within the halls of medicine.

That's my issue, Ann - NewAge - not just the subheading "crying out about the fakery of alternative medicine." How can you hope to judge my take on, say, alternative medicine, when you haven't even grappled with, or grasped, the larger topic or my take on it? Oh wait, you did - you said you saw it in (wait for it) Obama's 2008 campaign for president/Death to America.

There's no way to spin the NewAge hysteria I witnessed during the Oprah/Obama show into anything resembling rational thought. You rationalized. And it, too, is now affecting trillions of people, and it, too, is THE SAME MASSIVE FRAUD. "Hope and Change" is "The Secret" and that, know matter what you say, is what you voted for, so cop to it.

I have friends and, other than in jest, bullshitting each other is NOT how we engage our time. The blacks who voted for Obama wouldn't dare spin no "sober, rational reasons" defense - they voted for the man because he was black, period. They fucked up. They know it. No skirting it. No complaints made like they had nothing to do with it. They know people like me caught hell during the madness. Now they're asking what's going to happen. We tease.

That's being real - but that's not the game Ann's playing. Her staunch refusal to even entertain the notion that, yep, she's the product of her self-selected culture, which is multi-culti NewAge, whether she only drinks a *little* Kool-Aid or not, is, for me, off-putting. Clearly, the same goes for Glenn Reynolds and quackery.

The Crack Emcee said...

I don't float on denial. I don't shop at Whole Foods. I know there is a thing called "the truth" and the rest of you can and will rationalize it any way you want but, as you know, I don't share that gene. I don't find it mysterious, sexy, charming, or healthy and the wreckage is all around us as to why I hold this position. I understand NewAge, intimately, and while it's true that "Crack discovers New Ageism in the most innocent of human occupations," that's because they're NewAge, not because I go slapping the label willy-nilly on everybody and everything. I've never called Fred4Prez or Trooper NewAge, or Freeman Hunt, or Jonah Goldberg, or Bill Whittle, or Herman Cain, or even Michele Bachmann after her stupid anti-vaccine nonsense. Never said a word about video games, either. NewAge is NewAge, with it's own system, and I understand it with the same familiarity most have with seeing a Christian wearing a cross. Ann Althouse is NewAge.

Finally, Ann says - in criticizing me - "this has been a well-known problem since at least 1980." And I loved this:

And I don't even want to talk about the member of my family who had just about all the warning signs of cancer but assured us that her doctor said is was just the effects of aging and what it was like when I found out the doctor was a homeopath.

Heavens, Ann, what did you do? I know, you went and watched some American Idol (liveblogged it!) or caught that AMAZING Lady GaGa album or found some new twist on why we should be focused on gays. Meanwhile, I've got this nightmare which has now claimed Steve Jobs that hardly anybody cares to talk about - partially because they're part of it.

Quaestor said "It's true Crack uses overheated rhetoric, but what has cool reason done to dissuade the self-deluded?"

I say, with Ann Althouse's Obama vote as evidence, not a damned thing.

jeff said...

"Are we to blame all the genius types who had their prostrate removed by robotic surgery and were left impotent, vs those who went to Canada for alternative treatments using HIFU treatments and are still able to pee?"

No, we are to blame the one's that went to Canada and are dead, vs the genius types who are not. Although I kind of understand your requirement for 100% effectiveness for procedures you disagree with and anecdotal evidence for those you do. I think its kind of stupid, but I understand it.

Roger J. said...

Eric--the Gleason Score based on the pathological examination of the cancerous cells gives you an indication of the cancer's aggressiveness in prostate cancer. And I agree with the point, although a rather trivial point, I think, we will not know how the disease, or any disease for that matter will progress if not treated.

Medicine is as much art as science, IMO. I made my decision based on considerable research and survival rates versus type of cancer cells--I am an epidemiologist by trade so I do understand the literature. Ultimately, a decision to intervene in prostate cancer should be based on one hell of a lot of data and consultation with a competent urologist. It is ultimately a personal decision that involves the amount of risk one is willing to take.

The end result for me was impotence, but went they did the TURP they found my cancer had already spread outside the prostate envelope into the seminal vessicles. Survival rate for a stage 3 cancer is 50% after 5 years so I figure I made the right decision even if I had trade survival for an erection.

Matt said...

The Crack Emcee

Job's had pancreatic cancer, which does not have a high survival rate. And he didn't only do alternative medicine.

Also, your whole anti-New Age thing is a bit over-the-top. You act like it's some new phenomena. But history shows clearly that people form all parts of the world have been wary of doctors and medicines and surgery forever.

Christian Science is one such group and they were well before New Age.

Are they wrong? If one is dealing with a disease that has a very high cure rate with medicine or surgery then yes. But we all know that a good many doctors overprescribe drugs that kill the patient in a different way or they recommend surgery when it may not be necessary - see prostate cancer.

The best advice is for people to get more than one opinion, research [if they can] and make an informed decision. Eating right, exercising and seeking alternative ways are not only New Age and they certainly are not dumb. They are ways in which people can enhance their lives while ALSO taking medication or having surgery if need be. Every doctor I know says eating right and exercising are important. If more people did them there would probably be fewer people in hospitals hoping pills will heal them.

Roger J. said...

BTW re after effects of prostate surgery: I should note that I am quite able to urinate and my impotence can be treated with a number of interventions should I wish it.

Ralph L said...

Paris is worth a Mass.

rick said...

Traditionalguy "Herman went to the best Cancer Specialists (M. D. Anderson) and did what the told him to do."

My deceased brother (esophageal cancer) tried like heck to get into MD Anderson. He was willing to try anything at stage 4. Unfortunately, they would not take him as his diseased had progressed too far.

The Crack Emcee said...

Matt,

Job's had pancreatic cancer, which does not have a high survival rate. And he didn't only do alternative medicine.

Not only are you not telling me anything I didn't know, but you're suggesting I'm responsible for something I never said. ("he didn't only do alternative medicine") Great start.

Also, your whole anti-New Age thing is a bit over-the-top.

It isn't when you're the one caught in it's trap. But, to a certain extent, you are. Let's say I'm right - merely for the sake of argument - how much do you think the inflated price of groceries at Whole Foods and the like, recycling, efforts to combat "global warming," health restrictions on meals in restaurants, "alternative" medicine, psychics duping the public on shows like Oprah and Ellen and Montel, etc., cost us?

You act like it's some new phenomena. But history shows clearly that people form all parts of the world have been wary of doctors and medicines and surgery forever.

Christian Science is one such group and they were well before New Age.

There is no "before New Age," it's a way of thinking that, you're right, has always been with us, changing it's name but not it's behaviors (in publishing the "Occult" section became "NewAge" before "Mind/Body/Spirit") and I'm saying longevity is no reason why it should always be with us or allowed to flourish.

We are modern men in the new world, and it's about time we started acting like it. If we focused more on schooling using common sense and critical thinking (as opposed to the absolutely relentless but equally brainless propaganda to "go green") while addressing the issues of fraud, etc., that NewAge presents, we'd not only nip a huge social problem in the bud but shame a bunch of criminals (or put them in jail) and save or recoup a whole lot of credibility and money. You can't do anything with charlatans running the show.

Except kill everything, that is. That much you can certainly do.

How's that "Hope and Change" working out for you?