Harvard Medical School researcher: Steve Jobs’ trust in alternative medicine likely shortened his life

“Tech titan Steve Jobs’ trust in alternative medicine immediately after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis likely shortened his life, a Harvard Medical School researcher contends,” Bill Hutchinson reports for The Daily News.

“Researcher Ramzi Amri says the Apple cofounder’s death last week at age 56 was ‘unnecessarily early,'” Hutchinson reports. “In a lengthy post on the popular question-and-answer web site, Quora, Amri argues that Jobs reduced his chances of survival by resisting his doctors’ recommendation of immediate surgery after his October 2003 diagnosis.”

Hutchinson reports, “Jobs, a practicing Buddhist, instead pursued special alternative medicines and diets for nine months before eventually undergoing the operation to remove his tumor, according to published reports… Amri described Jobs’ form of cancer as ‘mild’ and could have been remedied if he had immediately opted for surgery. By the time Jobs underwent surgery in July 2004 at Stanford University Medical Center it was too late, Amri contends.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Citymark” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Doctor: There’s no way of knowing if nine-month surgery delay shortened Steve Jobs’ life – October 15, 2011

118 Comments

  1. “By definition”, I begin
    “Alternative Medicine”, I continue
    “Has either not been proved to work,
    Or been proved not to work.
    You know what they call “alternative medicine”
    That’s been proved to work?
    Medicine.”

    Tim Minchin (Storm)

    1. Nice quote.
      Here’s another one from Brian Dunning: “Westerners’ belief that Chinese have long relied on alternative medicine is due in part to being duped by book publishers.” See Skeptoid.com #259
      For me, if it is true that Steve’s life was shortened because he rejected evidence-based medicine in favour of alternative remedies, then that is shocking and depressing news, and if any quacks misled him, I hope they will see the light of reason.

  2. @Killercat
    “Whenever you get a cancer diagnosis, you should, you must get to the hospital immediately. Like the very next day, if not the same day. Everything else is like gambling with your life.”

    I really do sympathize with the fear of a cancer diagnosis. However—good luck finding an oncologist who will see an outpatient “walk-in, same day appointment”. Read the article, then Google “prostate cancer”. Some cancers are VERY slow, with th elikelihood of dying from some other cause — such as a traffic accident due on the way to your healthcare facility. Please be calm. “Life” is a terminal condition.

    1. I am working in a cancer clinic by chance as a medic professional. But not in the United States. I am sorry for your screwed up medicare. The US has really great research facilities and fantastic universities I absolutely admire, but the worst health care system of the entire industrial world. It’s simply dysfunctional.

      Yes, there are slow growing cancer forms. That doesn’t mean you should wait. Cancer infiltrates and some spread (metastases). The quicker a malign cancer is removed, the better.

      1. You think it is bad and slow now? Wait till you see how much worse it will be if Obamacare is instituted. A delay of a day will become weeks or months. Treestment quality will decline… It’s all bad, Soviet Russia here we come

        1. I welcome Obamacare. In fact it is not even enough and unfortunately a washed-out, light version of the right thing he wanted to introduce but couldn’t due to the big business whore, called the Republicans. If not 99.99% have a medical insurance, you have failed as society. Yes, I am that radical.

  3. Too much knee-jerk defending your hero around here, guys. The fact is, he should not have waited at all to have that surgery by trying unproven, unscientific diets. It’s not a guarantee, but it “LIKELY” shortened his life. Jobs’s “good” type of pancreatic cancer gives a patient an average life of 10 years after treatment. He did himself no favors in delaying, and that’s THE FACT.

  4. True or not… How insensitive to throw this in the face of a grieving family. Just to say “I told you so”.. Shut up! His medical records are personal, and discussing this now, especially in such a public forum, serves no one accept the ego of a very insensitive jerk.

  5. A whipple procedure is a significantly major procedure to have done. I do believe that Steve delayed his surgery to try alternative methods. Although he may have been given the all clear following the surgery, the fact is that given the low likelihood of metastases if this particular tumor is caught early, delaying surgery can lead to microscopic lymphocytic infiltration, something not readily seen grossly during surgery or by CT scan. Although most of the numbers are favorable for 5 (50-70% in one study and an overall 20-84% generalized) and 10 year survival rates (which Steve fell nicely into…), the odds of survival are greatly decreased if the tumor extends to the liver. The average survival time from metastases is 23 months on average. My presumption here is that the metastatic tumors are large enough to be picked up by CT scan, MRI or PET scan at the time of diagnosis.

    I think it is pure speculation that Steve’s diet caused this issue. Veganism is not really known to cause oncogenic disease. I would put forth that his vegan lifestyle may have actually helped to prolong his life. But certainly the wait time may have been his biggest weakness (If that is indeed what occurred).

    Remember, if he indeed had metastatic disease in 2004, then he would have to go on record as having been one of the longest survivors ever, far exceeding the 23 month time frame.

    For those interested, you can look up more data for the layman here: http://www.pancan.org/section_facing_pancreatic_cancer/downloads/Islet_Cell_Fact_Sheet_050511.pdf

    or look at some more detailed information here:

    http://pathology.jhu.edu/pancreas/TreatmentEndocrine.php?area=tr

    Hope this sheds a little light on the discussion. Steve’s loss is still a great one regardless of the cause. I really hope that we can keep this discussion a little more civil than what has transpired. He still has a family who will undoubtedly read some of these posts one day.

    In science it is our duty to speculate and question, even if the dogma of the day is written in stone. Many worlds would never have been discovered if we still believed the world was flat; and having just completed a brilliant book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, we must always question when it comes to cancer so that we can find cures. Let’s just keep it civil.

  6. The type of cancer he had was a death sentence, either way.
    The dr who wrote this is a Harvard Medical Researcher, his findings are based on research. A researcher does not need ones medical records to offer an opinion, it’s based on RESEARCH. perhaps he could of lived a few more years more or not. I am surprised Jobs did not go to John Hopkins, which is the best hospital, Dana Farber, Mass General, Brigham & Woman’s or the Mayo Clinic is shocking, but why prolong the suffering is the moral question.

    1. Steve went to Stanford Medical Center, one of the finest medical institutions in the country. Now, certainly for his rare form of cancer, his oncologist at Stanford probably consulted with other top specialists in the field all across the country. And, he may have gotten a 2nd opinion at any of those other fine facilities. We don’t know, though we might learn a little from his bio, but I’m doubtful.

      1. Perhaps his doctor at Stanford consulted with the guy from the article, too?
        I’m not sure how the system works – but I have a feeling that after a while, maybe his anonymized medical files were doing the rounds in specialist circles?
        Sort of how iPhone parts leak out of Chinese factories and make rounds at case-makers?
        In any case, he was likely as “easy” as a patient as he was as boss..

  7. Commenting on Steve Jobs’ illness and treatment is reckless, not to mention distasteful. As has been stated, he never treated Steve and doesn’t know the options and choices for treatment.

    This guy could have just said something like, “This reminds us how deadly cancer is. It’s important to take care of your health, work with you doctors, and start treatment as soon as possible.”

  8. He knew he had cancer and fucked around with quacks instead of solving the problem. He chose to be a dumb ass Buddhist to be California fashionable. That helped lead him to the second dumbest thing he did in his life (first was denying a baby was his an lying like a dog it was not and that he was sterile).

    Cost him years of life . Those are the facts, get over it.

  9. Besides the total lack of supporting evidence and general insensitivity of this peice, the thing that offendeds me the most about this is how it causually name drops Buddhist beleifs as if that explains a disregard for science. Budhism is by far the religion most in tune with science. Budhism (at least as it was taught by the Buddha – can’t make speak for every sect) doesn’t conflict with science in any way. The only remotely supernatural or unprovable thing Buddhism claims is enlightenment – the idea that an ordinary person can achieve a profound of the universe through hard work. While this idea might be impossible to prove, it spurs people to learn more about the universe.

  10. Why does any of this matter? If he decided to act contrary to his doctor’s recommendations, then that was his choice. No person or institution told him what he could or could not do, what he must or must not do – only what he should do. He made his own choice about his treatment, and that is as it should be.

    1. Ah, a fast and painful death-seeker. How about suicide? It’s faster and less painful that to let the cancer grow and spread.
      Have fun!

      BTW : not every cancer requires a chemotherapy.

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