Concern for Steve Jobs Health Resurfaces for iApplers

Steve Jobs Health
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Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, is taking a medical leave of absence to “focus” on his health.

It is déjà vu at Apple today. In an email sent to Apple employees this morning, Jobs announced that he will be taking another medical leave of absence.

This is not the first time that Jobs has had to excuse himself from his role at Apple to take care of medical issues. In 2003 during a routine abdominal ultrasound, doctors found a malignant tumor on Jobs’ pancreas. A diagnosis of the most common form of pancreatic cancer, adenocarcinoma, is typically a death sentence. Most don’t survive beyond a year after diagnosis. However, Jobs was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of this cancer that is cured surgically and doesn’t require chemotherapy or radiation.

In order to remove the cancer from Job’s pancreas, a surgery known as the “Whipple” was required. Named for the man who developed the procedure, a Whipple involves the removal of the head of the pancreas and gall bladder as well as part of the stomach, bile duct, and small intestine. The digestive system is then reconstructed to function as normal as possible.

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As a Buddhist and a vegetarian, Steve Jobs reportedly was skeptical of treating his condition with western medicine. He spent nine months trying alternative therapies and diets to avoid the operation. Then in July of 2004 he underwent the Whipple procedure, followed by an announcement to Apple employees that he was cured of cancer.

Steve Jobs may have beaten the cancer, but the world continued to speculate that he never fully recovered. At the unveiling of the iPhone in June of 2008 Job’s appearance was rail-thin. A spokeswoman said he was simply recovering from a “common bug”. This however, didn’t stop the internet chatter that Jobs’ cancer had returned. Then in January of 2009 Jobs took a medical leave of absence, similar to the one announced today. He cited that his health problems were “more complex” than he originally thought and that a “hormone imbalance” was preventing him from absorbing nutrients in food.

According to Dr. Dilip Parekh at the University of Southern California, this is a plausible explanation for Job’s gaunt appearance and poor health since his Whipple procedure. ‘There is a small group of people who tend to have persistent problems with weight loss and loss of energy and you often you are not able to pinpoint why.” Other side effects of the Whipple include diabetes mellitus, acid reflux, intolerance to food, and ulcers. Dr. Parekh does assure that even with these side effects, if nutrition and activity are managed well, a normal quality of life is to be expected.

Even though Jobs requested in today’s email to employees that his privacy be respected during this time, it is unlikely that this will dampen the media storm. His health is extremely important to Wall Street, shareholders, and the future of Apple. An announcement of a recurrence of cancer or resignation from his CEO position at Apple would greatly change the shape of the company’s future.

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