What role did his vegan diet play in his death?
Tough question to answer—not enough data. Shortly after his death, I published a blog about Steve Jobs on October 8. Since that time, that blog has received more traffic than all other pages except for my home page. Entitled Steve Jobs. Vegan? Early death from pancreatic cancer?, a lot of people are still interested in what happened to Steve.
After receiving hundreds of comments and emails on this topic, I want to revisit that blog and share more information. But first I wish to clarify the way I see things now:
- Based on Isaacson’s book (that I read) and input from people who knew Steve, he ate a vegan diet for various periods during his life, first beginning to do so as a young adult.
- We don’t know what percentage of his life included a vegan diet, nor do we know what constituted his version of that diet. We know he liked sushi but we don’t know if he ate only vegetarian sushi—I doubt it. A friend who worked with Steve for many years told me that he loved ice cream (probably not vegan ice cream).
- What we do know for sure is that all vegan diets are not necessarily healthy. As we said in our book, you could eat nothing but Diet Coke and potato chips and call yourself a vegan and you’d probably die at a far younger age than Steve did.
- The problem is that the definition of vegan doesn’t describe what you DO eat; it only means that you supposedly DON’T eat anything that has any animal ingredients. If you want to know the definition of a near-optimal diet based on what you DO eat, take a look at our 4Leaf Page.
A little background. In my October 8 blog, I included a video by Dr. Michael Greger about the association of animal fat with pancreatic cancer. Regarding that video, I stated, “Dr. Michael Greger cites a huge NIH AARP study (500,000 people) that tightly associates the consumption of all fat AND protein of animal origin with pancreatic cancer. On the other hand, plant-based fat had no association.”
So that doesn’t prove that Steve’s diet had anything to do with his death. The evidence suggests that his chances of death from pancreatic cancer would have been less if he had consumed no animal fat for his entire life. But since we don’t know exactly what Steve ate for his entire life, we can’t be completely sure about anything regarding why he died.
But we can be sure about one thing; people will be interested in this special man’s life and legacy for decades, or maybe centuries. Without a doubt, he changed the world—and he changed mine.
About one year ago, I bought my first Apple computer (MacBook Pro) after having bought my first iPhone 18 months before that. Clearly, the man had a passion for making many insanely great products, and for that I am grateful.
Having written 350 consecutive daily blogs on this MacBook, I can testify to the superiority of his products. As for the ongoing interest in his life, I got this message from a follower of my blog last week:
I am reading the Steve Jobs book now and have a question..if he ate so healthfully…why did he get cancer? As posted in your blog, diet alone can help but is not the surefire bullet/protector.
In the book, Mr. Isaacson mentions that Steve Jobs claims his health woes started up when he first returned to Apple and was also running Pixar (“running two companies was brutal”) . Back then the health woes were kidney stones. Could it have been extreme stress that was the fatal key to Steve’s subsequent woes. I did read how sushi was his weakness that he indulged in from time to time but otherwise and primarily he seemingly kept to a vegan regiment and did this for a long period of time. Regards, Susan.
The Bottom Line. I wrote a note back to Susan with a brief summary of what I have written just now in this blog. As I explained to her, there simply is not enough solid data to conclude anything about the role of diet in Steve’s cancer and death. That’s my opinion; my friend Dr. John McDougall took it a step further and focused on every single mention of Steve’s diet in his biography. You can read his very thorough examination here. Why Did Steve Jobs Die?
Finally, today I would like to close with a quote of the day by a Kentucky philosopher. I will probably lead off with this quote in my speech at the University of Kentucky on February 13. My topic for that speech is: “The Big Picture About Food—and how it relates to the promotion of health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.”
People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry which pays no attention to food.—-Wendell Berry
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to email@example.com
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation