Fortune explores possible cause behind Steve Jobs’ thin appearance

“Much of the speculation about Steve Jobs’ rail-thin appearance at the unveiling of the new iPhone on Monday has tended to be all or nothing,” Phillip Elmer-Dewitt reports.

“Either his cancer has returned or he is recovering from a bout with a “common bug,” as his spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. ‘That’s all there is to it,’ she said,” Elmer-Dewitt reports. “(The talk may have unnerved investors a bit: Apple (AAPL) shares fell 4.1% on Thursday and another 2.4% by midday Friday.)”

“But this is not the first time Jobs’ appearance has raised concerns about his health, and the “common bug” doesn’t explain the weight loss that’s evident in a review of his keynote videos over the past few years,” Elmer-Dewitt reports.

“There’s another possibility, one that is consistent with both Jobs’ medical history and the changes in his appearance,” Elmer-Dewitt reports. “It stems directly from the type of cancer for which he was treated four years ago and the nature of that treatment.”

The operation that Steve Jobs underwent “radically rearranged his digestive organs and… permanently changed the nature of his health,” Elmer-Dewitt reports. Jobs’ “surgery was a variation on the Whipple procedure, or a pancreatoduodenectomy, the most common operation for pancreatic cancer. Nobody who has a Whipple is ever quite the same.”

Full article here.

Regardless of the status of Jobs’ health, for AAPL shareholders’ sake, we hope that Apple’s tech wizards down in the secret subterranean dungeon lab have that eerie-as-hell Westworld version of Jobs ready-to-go at a moment’s notice.

We know, we know… we’d rather have a fembot, too.


  1. Years ago I used to grow a beard just to, well grow a beard. When I got tired of it I would shave it off. Inevitably, I would be asked by several people, seeing me without it for the first time, if I was feeling okay, “you look pale” or “you look a bit under the weather”. Simply running my hand over my face would make them realize what I had done. How many times have you had friends do the same thing and you weren’t able to put a finger on the change right away? I’m not saying there isn’t a health issue involved but take this example into consideration. One of the blogs had side by side photos posted of Steve Jobs both with and without a beard and my above example is the first thing that popped into my head when I saw them.

  2. The last line on original article says it all… “Apple (AAPL) was invited to comment on this story, but has so far declined.” This story was posted at 4:13 PM on 6/13/08. After the market had closed… after it had lost basically 14 points on rumors of Steve’s ‘illness.’

    They have a responsibility to their investors… It isn’t just their money… Just like the government thinks that it is their money…

  3. This Elmer-Dewitt guy is right (although he didn’t cite the doctor he discussed this with) about people who have a modified Whipple procedure (more likely what Jobs had than the older complete Whipple). However, he did not necessarily have either procedure. It depends upon how much of the pancreas was involved with the cancer. If he had a complete pancreatectomy, he is on enzyme replacement therapy (pills that contain the enzymes the pancreas makes) and that makes it very difficult to maintain a good weight. For comparison, think about kids with Cystic Fibrosis – they have the exact same problem. I’m sure his diet and this recent “bug” aren’t helping. Also, this “bug” may have actually been pneumonia. Or, his hoarse voice could just be from a laryngitis, in which case antibiotics were unnecessarily prescribed (which happens all too often these days and is causing the drug resistance problems we have today).

    Lesson over.


  4. Being a pharmacist I am appauled at what is happening right now regarding Jobs’ “health”.

    Lets be honest, did he look thin? Yes. Deathly thin? No.

    You don’t just get cancer “back” and then suddenly drop weight. It doesn’t work that way. Sorry guys.

    Besides, there is something called HIPAA which protects a persons medical history. Apple nor Jobs has to release sh!t about his health.

    This speculation is truly hitting below the belt. I am outraged.

  5. Um, as a pharmacist I hope you pay more attention to the pills you dole out than you do to your spelling and grammar.

    e.g. “appalled” “Let’s” “person’s”

    As for Steve, I was surprised at his appearance, but his energy was very good. To me he seemed thin, happy and fine.

  6. @ Rick from Quantico:

    The shareholders don’t have a “right” to know about SJ’s health, unless it is affecting his ability to do his job. So far, there’s been nothing to show that SJ can’t perform his job, and actually, more evidence that he is doing an exemplary job.

    Apple has said he was traveling extensively around the world to close iPhone distribution deals with various mobile phone providers. Well, we all know that SJ has a particular diet he follows, and maybe he couldn’t get that diet on his travels easily. Also, maybe he simply didn’t each much because he was working and traveling.

    Or maybe he wanted to lose some weight.

  7. It seems to me that the stock goes down every january and every june after keynotes. And recently in the fall after product releases. It’s just the weird apple cycle. It’s been this way for years.

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