Some alternative medicine, especially certain herbs and vitamin therapies, has proven useful; some standard medicine has proven deadly. But so far the evidence suggests that alternative medicine is a bad idea when it comes to dealing with serious, lethal diseases like cancer. And here’s a case in point…

From Skepticblog:

“I’m sad that today I’m adding a slide to one of my live presentations, adding Steve Jobs to the list of famous people who died treating terminal diseases with woo rather than with medicine…Steve, it turned out, had been treating his pancreatic cancer with a special diet [UPDATE] prescribed by the alternative medicine promoter Dr. Dean Ornish.

“Most pancreatic cancers are aggressive and always terminal, but Steve was lucky (if you can call it that) and had a rare form called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which is actually quite treatable with excellent survival rates — if caught soon enough. The median survival is about a decade, but it depends on how soon it’s removed surgically. Steve caught his very early, and should have expected to survive much longer than a decade. Unfortunately Steve relied on a diet instead of early surgery. There is no evidence that diet has any effect on islet cell carcinoma. As he dieted for nine months, the tumor progressed, and took him from the high end to the low end of the survival rate.”

In related news, PSYCHICS PSUCK:

NEWSER) – A self-proclaimed psychic in California scared the bejeezus out of a 12-year-old girl by telling her that “horrible things” awaited her in the future, reports the Los Angeles Times. Then, police say, she told the girl that the curse could be lifted for the right price, which prompted the kid to steal $10,000 in family jewelry. Police have arrested the psychic on suspicion of extortion and are looking for other victims. They see jail in her future.

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