November 2011 John Weeks Integrator Round-up:  Media

Steve Jobs’ decision to delay conventional treatment to explore alternative medicine spins through media 

“Did alternative medicine kill Steve Jobs?” This question was asked in a flurry of articles that came out subsequent to the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs. In fact, search that title and page after page will show up. One asked more specifically if Vegan quackery” was the culprit. Jobs chose to explore alternatives before his surgery, allowing the tumor to grow. The media brouhaha led NIH NCCAM director Josephine Briggs, MD to publish a comment on it on her Director’s Page.  Briggs takes a view that the evidence is not there for using CAM in lieu of conventional treatment but adds that complementary approaches can be useful in the areas of quality of life, giving patients active participation and empowerment, and alleviating the symptoms and side effects.

Integrator columnist Taylor Walsh notes that a CNN feature in which Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta discussed the topic “was very balanced noting that many patients choose anything-but-surgery treatments.” He adds: “Did not seem much for the quacklings to latch on to.” 

Comment: Most analysts examined Jobs’ decision in the context of Jobs well-known stubbornness and free-thinking. Of course in a more reasonable world the headlines would rightfully have read: “Did Steve Jobs’ choice to delay treatment kill him?” Alternative medicine was innocent. Notably, his reported friend, Dean Ornish, MD, urged the surgery.