Steve Jobs’ weight loss could be a common side effect of the operation that cured his pancreatic cancer, says Philip Elmer-Dewitt at Fortune. Philip says that Jobs likely had the “Whipple” procedure, which often causes significant and permanent weight loss:
Along with the digestive problems, patients often lose 5% to 10% of their body weight after the procedure. Weight stabilizes within the first year or two for the vast majority of patients, says Dr. Dilip Parekh, chief of tumour and endocrine surgery at the University of Southern California, who has performed more than 100 Whipple procedures. “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,” he says. “But if they stay active and manage their nutrition well, there is no reason for them not to live a normal life.”
Jobs has never spoken publicly about what life is like after the Whipple, so we can’t be sure that he has any of the post-operative problems associated with the procedure. But they would go long way toward explaining why he looked the way did on Monday. And none of them would indicate that his cancer has returned, or that his capacity for work is diminished. Post-operative guides for patients suggest that there will be lifestyle changes but that they need not be drastic. And a survey of patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital found that the overall quality of life of long-term survivors of the surgery is nearly comparable to that of healthy people.
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