Dr. John McDougall publishes an excellent health newsletter. He is an advocate of the health benefits of the vegan starch-based diet. He also writes extensively about one of my favorite topics, conservative medical care. Last month, in his November 2011 newsletter, Dr. McDougall wrote about Steve Jobs' death.
There has been much written about Steve Jobs' long fight with pancreatic cancer. The sad thing, as Dr. McDougall explains, is that the articles written about Steve Jobs' illness has contained much misinformation. Jobs became a vegan when he was a teenager. He delayed surgery on his pancreatic cancer for 9 months following the 2003 diagnosis. Some of the authors who have written about Jobs' long struggle blame his diet lifestyle and his stubbornness with regard to surgery for his premature death.
Here is what Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist, had to say about Jobs in her October 25th, 2011 column:
"He was a control freak, yet when he learned he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer that would respond to surgery, he ignored his wife, doctors and friends and put the surgery off for nine months, trying to heal himself with wacky fruit diets, hydrotherapy, a psychic and expressing his negative feelings. (As though he had to be encouraged.)"
Dr. McDougall disagrees that Jobs' vegan lifestyle contributed to premature death. McDougall feels strongly that Jobs' decision to not have surgery following his diagnosis had absolutely nothing to do with the tragic outcome. Dr. McDougall states the following in his most current (December 2011) newsletter:
"1) Steve Jobs’ cancer of the pancreas was caused by exposure to environmental chemicals while working in the electronics industry when he was a teenager and a young adult. Lead (Pb), used in soldering, is one possible culprit.
2) Jobs delayed his surgery for 9 months after the initial diagnosis. Because the cancer had metastasized, he was made to believe that he killed himself by forestalling recommended treatment. However, scientific analysis proves that his cancer had actually spread almost two decades before he was diagnosed in October of 2003.
3) His lifelong vegan diet probably prolonged his life. Yet, his doctors’ prejudice for meat eating and their ignorance about human protein needs, forced Jobs to violate his philosophical beliefs—he and his family were tricked into eating animals."
The full text of John McDougall's newsletter article can be read here.
Comment: It is very hard to know exactly why Steve Jobs contracted pancreatic cancer. However, the fact that he worked with cancer producing metals while constructing the electrical circuit boards for his early computers seems like a plausible explanation. In fact, we will never know. I am quite confident, however, that his diet (vegan) lifestyle had nothing to do with it. If fact, there is much research, including The China Study, that provides strong evidence that healthy vegan diets help prevent cancer. As Dr. McDougall says, "his (Jobs') lifelong vegan diet probably prolonged his life." It is very sad that such a remarkable (albeit imperfect) man, who contributed so much to the world, was taken from us so prematurely.