Monday, October 10, 2011

Alt-Med Vampires

Feel the need to comment on this. If you want the full story, head on over to Respectful Insolence to hear from someone actually qualified to take this on. Much thanks to Orac for watching this trash so I don't have to.

Alt-med practitioners, at least the slimy ones, seem to have a habit of abusing dead celebrities to sell their woo and attack modern medicine. Why would Steve Jobs be any different?

, you are a stronger man than I, because I can't get through 10 minutes of that before the nausea sets in.

Mercola:This is not routinely done for two primary reasons. The first is that it in no way, shape, or form addresses the original cancer, and it can easily spread to the new liver. But more importantly, he had to be placed on large doses of drugs to suppress his immune system so he would not reject his new liver. Tragically this is the very system your body uses to help control cancers. The liver has enormous regenerative capacity, and if they only removed the portion of his liver that contained the malignant cells, he would not have to take those dangerous anti-rejection drugs.

Orac? Insolence please.

I've discussed the issue of liver transplant for neuroendocrine tumors like insulinoma (which is what Jobs had) before. While it is arguable whether a liver transplant was the best decision for Jobs in 2009, it was certainly not outside the standard of care, nor was it unreasonable. Mercola also makes a very silly statement when he states that "if only" they had removed the portion of the liver containing the cancer, Jobs wouldn't have needed all those nasty immunosuppressants. Well, duh! Give that man a prize for stating the obvious as though it were some brilliant insight! Here's the issue: Transplant is not even considered for insulinoma metastatic to the liver unless the metastases are unresectable (i.e., they involve two or more lobes or are too close to major vascular structures). And what defines resectability? To boil it down to its essence, although there are certainly other considerations (the aforementioned vascular structures, for example) it's basically the ability to remove the liver tissue containing all of the metastase(s) and still leave enough liver tissue behind to survive on. Contrary to what Mercola thinks, the liver's regenerative capacity, although truly impressive, is not limitless, particularly if the liver is compromised by cirrhosis. Take too much liver, and the patient will die of liver failure because the liver can't regenerate fast enough (or just enough) to achieve function consistent with life. In addition to that basic equation, we just don't know whether Jobs' liver had been damaged or otherwise compromised by the insulinoma; it's possible that his liver wasn't in the best shape at the time, leaving less capacity to regenerate.

Thank you, back to the woo. From the interview transcript....

DM: There were some comments that he was leading up to his death, and people would post comments on Facebook and are asking why I couldn't get in touch with him and offer him some therapy. I'm not a cancer expert like you are, of course, but I believe someone like you could have really made a difference. My understanding is that your therapy was offered to him, but could you go to that process of why he chose not to undertake a natural or alternative approach to cancer?

DG: He wanted to see an alternative. In fact when he was first diagnosed, he got some dietary program - again, he was very secretive of that - So I don't exactly know what he did at that point. But through his acupuncturist, there was communication. He was getting acupuncture, and he was doing some alternative things as far as I know. This acupuncturist actually talked to me, discussing the situation. She was really anxious for him to come and see me. But he chose not to do that.

You know, I always respect the patients' right to choose the therapy they want to choose, so I would never dispute that. The patients have to make the decisions based on what they want to do. But she was very adamant; in fact, she knew about all my works in the alternative world. He had seen alternative-type practitioners. She really wanted for him to come and see me. He chose not to do that. From my perspective, it was unfortunate, because he was such a gift to the world in terms of his inventions and genius in the past 30 years.

I don't need a medical degree to deal with this one. This is simply two vampires pissing all over a deceased man to sell their "treatment." The "phantom acupuncturist" is a great touch. It lends the story a certain aura of verisimilitude. I'm sure the acupuncturist is unnamed due to privacy concerns, and not lack of existence.

Not that it matters one bit, since Steve Jobs is conveniently dead and unavailable to either confirm or deny any of this. Of course, if he just would have went to Dr. Gonzalez for treatment, he'd still be with us today. *insert eye roll here*

Orac, can you deal with this, because if I do it is going to be libelous.

Particularly vomit-inducing is the way Gonzalez turns around the argument based on a "patient's right to choose." Frequently, those of us who support science-based medicine, when confronted with the story of a patient who chooses quackery instead of medicine and suffers harm or dies as a result, will sadly say that a competent adult has the right to choose quackery if that's what he wants, mainly because he does. Self-determination is a basic human right. Here, we have Dr. Gonzalez turning that argument on its head, sadly shrugging his shoulders and expressing regret that Jobs had the right to choose his own course and chose SBM instead of quackery. After his flirtation with some sort of diet and unknown "alternative" therapies, Jobs appears to have turned to scientific medicine and never looked back, at least as far as we can tell based on the limited information available from press accounts. There's one thing that's for sure, though. If SBM couldn't save Jobs, Gonzalez sure as hell couldn't save him either, his claims otherwise notwithstanding. Now that Jobs is dead, Gonzalez's claims have the added bonus for him of being unfalsifiable, even though Gonzalez's methods have already been shown to be worse than useless for pancreatic cancer.

Thanks again, Orac.

Seriously. Dr. Mercola? Dr. Gonzalez? How about less pissing on the dead and more proving your treatments work, and no, I am not talking about anecdotal "evidence." Give me five bucks and ten minutes and I'll provide anecdotal "evidence" that I can cure cancer with a kick to the shin. Real evidence. Major journal articles. Double blind studies. Documented case histories. Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

I'll wait.

Seriously, I'm in no hurry.

Got all the time in the world.

La la la la la.

Protip: Real evidence is not coming because their treatments do not cure cancer, or anything else for that matter, other than perhaps heavy wallet syndrome. Think I'm wrong? Then fucking prove it.

Prove your treatments work and I'll be right there in line to kiss your ass. Until then, can you please leave the dead to rest in peace?

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