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28th November 2011

Did Jobs’ rejection of conventional medicine cost him his life?

Steve Jobs: 1955-2011
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The death of Apple visionary Steve Jobs has saddened tech fans all over the world. But could Jobs still be alive if he hadn’t have initially shunned conventional medicine?

 Jobs had a relatively mild form of pancreatic cancer, a neuroendocrine tumour, which isn’t usually fatal if detected early enough and removed. In fact, if the tumour is detected while it’s still confined to the pancreas, 87 percent of patients are still alive five years after diagnosis. However, Jobs delayed surgery and chemotherapy for nine months in favour of alternative and unproven cancer treatments. These reportedly included hydrotherapy-which uses water to treat illness, acupuncture, a diet of just fruit and vegetables, as well as spiritual consultations. Did this decision lead to Jobs’ death eight years after he was first diagnosed?

 Although acupuncture is now accepted widely as a complimentary treatment for cancer, it’s not a proven technique for treating tumours on its own. Jobs’ diet of fruit and vegetables and alleged “juice-fasting”, where only vegetable and fruit juice is consumed, may have also proved ineffectual, and actually counter-productive. The sugary juice Jobs may have drunk could have fed the cancer cells, encouraging cell division and increasing the tumour’s size. Additionally, his restricted diet may have starved healthy cells of necessary nutrients.

 Experts are undecided whether any of these treatments and the delay of conventional methods did shorten Jobs’ life or bring about his death. The alternative treatments he tried are not thought to have done any real harm, ineffective as they may have being in treating the tumour. This particular form of cancer is also very slow-growing, so it’s difficult to estimate whether the tumour did any additional damage in the nine months before it was removed. However, his biographer claims Jobs regretted delaying proven cancer treatments that may have saved his life.

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