Steve Jobs, the genius behind Apple Computer, died October 5, and the animal rights organization PETA quickly lifted a tall glass of carrot juice to his memory. That's what Jobs gave out to trick or treaters one Halloween, and PETA reminded us not only of that, but of other positive steps Jobs took for health and the environment. Jobs played a role in Disney's 2006 decision not to renew its Happy Meal toy deal with McDonalds, for example, and more recently "greened up" Apple's manufacturing operations in China and elsewhere.
Sadly, PETA has yet to acknowledge the role that Jobs's near vegan diet and frequent fruitarianism may have played in his death. Indeed, PETA continues to maintain that their vegan brand of "right eating" will virtually guarantee freedom from cancer and other major health problems despite the fact that most alternative MDs and health practitioners find serious illnesses among health-conscious vegans in their clinical practices.
None of us, of course, knows what caused the pancreatic cancer that led to Steve Jobs's death, or what, if anything could have saved him. Diet doubtless played a role, but lifestyle factors, environmental toxicity and genetic proclivities would have contributed as well. Certainly, Jobs was exposed over the years to massive bombardment from WiFi and other electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Medical treatments involving radiation, chemotherapy, a modified Whipple surgery, a liver transplant and immuno-suppressive drugs may also have contributed to his demise.
That said, not long after Jobs's death in October, people began asking me to comment on how his diet—and especially soy—might have contributed to his cancer and death. In fact, I never met Jobs and have no first hand knowledge of what he ate, but thanks to Walter Isaacson's biography Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, 2011), we all now have a pretty good idea of his lifelong dietary patterns.
The bullet points below include every reference to diet in the entire book, followed by the page numbers. These are either quotes or close paraphrases of Isaacson's words. My comments are found at the end, after the complete list of bullet points.
That's it. Not a lot to work with, but more than enough to show a longstanding pattern of eating disorders.
On the plus side, Jobs's diet seems to have been consistently organic and high quality. He employed chefs who'd worked at Chef Panisse, and his wife, Laurene Powell, founded Terravera, a company that produces ready-to-eat organic meals for stores in northern California. Jobs does not appear to have ever been a junk-food vegan who indulged in all-American junk foods such as soda, chocolate, cookies and crackers.
Soy is not mentioned at all in Isaacson's biography. The Apple culture was soy friendly with soy milk readily available in vending machines and at coffee stations and with soy meats served up at company cafeterias. Although Jobs clearly could have consumed a large amount of soy, it's likely he rejected it because of his longstanding fascination with the book The Mucusless Diet Healing System by Arnold Ehret (1866-1922). Ehret claimed the human body is an "air-gas engine" that runs well only on fruits, starchless vegetables and edible green leaves. Soy and other legumes, according to this way of thinking, were to be disdained as mucus-producing forbidden foods. Ehret not only condemned protein and fat as "unnatural" but said they could not be used by the body.
Inspired by such theories, Jobs appears to have eaten a diet low in both fat and protein for most of his life. And what did he eat instead? Carbs high in fructose.
Whether or not Jobs was in one of his fanatic fruitarian phases, he favored a lot of fruit and fruit juice. These are not only high on the glycemic index, but loaded with fructose. Fruits and fruit juices greatly stress the liver and pancreas, contribute to diabetes and many other blood sugar disorders, and have been linked to pancreatic cancer. Jobs suffered from a type of pancreatic cancer known as islet cell carcinoma, which originates in the insulin-secreting beta cells.
Research published in the November 2007 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded there was "evidence for a greater pancreatic cancer risk with a high intake of fruit and juices but not with a high intake of sodas." More recently, in the August 2010 issue of Cancer Research, Dr. Anthony Healy of UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center proposed that aberrant fructose metabolism—and not just aberrant glucose metabolism—might be involved in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer. Seems fructose provides the raw material cancer cells prefer to use to make the DNA they need to divide and proliferate. Although the UCLA findings are preliminary and more research needs to be done, the Reuters headline "Cancer Cells Slurp Up Fructose" is fair warning to all of us addicted to fruit and fruit juices.
Clearly Jobs broke away from strict veganism from time to time and indulged in a few eggs, salmon and unagi sushi. The words of his daughter Lisa (quoted above) provide a moving testimony to how well Jobs's body and mind responded to eating eel, a fish rich in protein and fat. That said, vegans who would like to think Jobs became sick because he failed to be "perfect vegan" now have evidence to support that belief.