Tag Archives: Pancrease

Steve Jobs, Swayze and Landon’s Cancer Deaths Avoidable?


Updated: 2/17/2019, Marc Woodard

Years ago I  was motivated to learn more about Pancreatic Cancer after hearing of Patrick Swayze’s diagnosis. Eighteen years earlier I recalled how shocked I was to hear about Michael Landon’s death from the same type of cancer in 1991.  And Steve Jobs in 2011. I thought what a loss of such talented and productive people.”

These events highlighted the insidious nature of cancer in general. But especially brought national attention to pancreatic cancer. I wondered, “was the cause of cancer brought about by cultural-geographic, genetic, environment and/or a combination of various lifestyle risk factors.”

Florida a popular place to retire -with the second highest state cancer cases nation wide.

Initially when I wrote on this topic in 2009, I wasn’t able to deduce the exact cause that led to Swayze and Landon’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis. However today I feel the cause has narrowed down to a handful of likely possibilities relevant to behavior, habits and environmental health risk factors.

After Jobs death I became more aware of certain lifestyle habits, genetic predisposition, stress factors, diet and other factors that may hold the answers to identifying likely causes. Today I’m more confident in saying, “pancreatic cancer is ‘likely’ related to a combination of environmental and lifestyle factors, whereas risk dramatically increases when genetically predisposed to acquire it.”

Steve Jobs lifestyle was different from the two actors [he wasn’t a smoker or drinker]. But had a dietary obsession with certain foods. Aside from this distinction all three of them lived in a densely populated area, Los Angeles, California, “the #1 cancer producing state (American Cancer Society, 2017).”These famous people also appeared to be Type-A personalities [workaholics, competitive drivers and short fused, etc.,]. Type-A people are more likely to develop obsessive behaviors and habits to cope with stress which doubles the risk of coronary heart disease.

“Apparent links between psychological stress and cancer could arise in several ways. For example, people under stress may develop certain behaviors, such as smoking, overeating, or drinking alcohol, which increase a person’s risk for cancer [National Cancer Institute, 2017].”

What is it about Alaska that makes it the 3rd lowest cancer producing state? Number 1 – Wyoming, Number 2 – District of Columbia.

Next I wanted to know how could anyone prevent, or remit cancer naturally from the body once it took hold?

First I needed to know a little more about these famous people lifestyles; and could they have done anything different to prevent or change their cancer story?

California has the highest cancer cases… and significantly higher than the three other highest cancer producing states: FL, TX, NY

First, we’ll look at the two Hollywood legends and see what habits they had in common. Then compare lifestyles with Steve Jobs. Thereafter, review past and current national cancer statistics to draw a partial conclusion based on likely lifestyle factors that contributed to their cancer and shortened lifespans.

Like most of you I was an avid follower and admirer of Michael Landon. My favorite childhood shows: Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven series.

Michael Landon was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma at the age of 54 – on 5 April 1991 and immediately underwent chemo therapy. His cancer had spread to his liver at first causing stomach cramps. Thereafter his pancreatic cancer was diagnosed 7 weeks later. The cancer became inoperable due to spreading within the liver and lymph nodes. Only 1% of patients with a metastasized cancer combination like this survive a five year period. He died in Malibu, CA on 1 July 1991. It was reported he drank heavily and had a four pack per day smoking habit.

“Pancreatic cancer is one of the faster spreading cancers; only about 4% of patients can expect to survive five years after their diagnosis (Park 2011).”

I also followed Hollywood legend Patrick Swazye. Three movies and one series in particular that memorialize his acting and physical abilities,Dirty Dancing, Next of Kin, Roadhouse and the Beast series. Swayze was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in March 2008 and underwent chemo therapy with new experimental drugs (vatalanib/gemcitabine) to shrink the tumor and prevent the development of new blood vessels that would otherwise nourish it.

“He’s a strong guy, and he’s got a great attitude,” says Ron Wise, a Cedars-Sinai spokesman, “in my experience, that has a lot to do with how things go.” Patrick Swayze’s biggest regret was his smoking which he continued to do until his death. Doctor’s agreed, even if he quit at the time of diagnosis would have no bearing on his outcome … 

High-temp charred foods, especially meat absorb carcinogens from fuel source.

After more than a year of cancer, Swazye completed 13 episodes of the beast without pain medication. Swayze Died, 14 Sept 2009 at the age of 57. The cancer ultimately spread to his liver. His life expectancy after diagnosis was 5 months. He lived 20 months after diagnosis.

Steve Jobs founder of Apple Computer and arguably one of the most brilliant innovators and businessmen of all time had an uncommon form of pancreatic cancer diagnosed in Oct 2003 (Park 2011).

It was reported throughout his life he was a vegan with an addictive and obsessive fructose [fruit] habit that rarely included the macro-nutrient protein [exception – he infrequently ate sushi and eel]. His food obsessions often limited him to apples, carrots, smoothies and fruit drinks for extended periods of time.

[He named the company after his fondness for apples.

“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.”

“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 (Daniel 2012).”

It was also reported he smoked marijuana and used LSD during his college years. It is likely he smoked weed during his battle with prostate cancer. This was not acknowledged by Jobs, but suspect by colleagues. Whether these things had anything to do with his cancer, I could not make that connection.

Nine months after diagnosis, Jobs underwent surgery to remove a tumor. In 2009 he underwent a liver transplant, a procedure appropriate for only a small number of patients with this type of rare pancreatic cancer. On October 5, 2011, due to complications from a relapse of his previously treated islet-cell – neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer … at the age of 56, Jobs died at his Palo Alto, California home around 3 p.m. (PDT).

There was an Interesting Self-Treatment Decisions Made by Jobs – He postponed surgery to remove a neuroendocrine tumor against his doctors advisement. Instead his controlling obsessions, including bazaar dietary habits led to self-treatment using alternative medicines. Had he chose to go through surgery 9 months earlier – it is likely the cancer would’ve been removed [as in other similar cases – Early removal of this type of cancerous tumor often cured the cancer]. His form of cancer was not as deadly or aggressive as the most common form.

Not until the cancer reached the late stage 9 months later did he agree to use conventional treatment to stop it from spreading. Unfortunately by this time the cancer had spread to other surrounding tissues. He also never quit his obsessive high fructose dietary habit after diagnosis. Even after being warned by his personal physician – the body would have a better chance of fighting cancer by adding more protein to the diet – THIS was the opinion of medical experts. Many believe Jobs would still be alive today if he had the surgery and chemotherapy and radiotherapy immediately after diagnosis. For whatever reason, Jobs believed alternative medicines was his best bet to beat cancer.

Later in his autobiography, it is mentioned he regretted the decision to self-treat his cancer.

Can location be a cancer causing factor? 

I believe “unhealthy lifestyle factors which include environment increases the risk of DNA gene string mutation and cancer cell growth and metastasis.” 

State Cancer Statistics 2002 – 2017

State cancer statistics show an increasing and concerning rise in cancer cases over the last 17 years. Note: Per Capita [population] as a percentage of state cancer cases have not been evaluated within this article.

States with highest cancer population diagnosis during year 2000 (California 113,200), Florida (88,100), Texas (76,100), NY (81,500), US diagnosed Cancer Totals – 1,220,100

States with highest cancer diagnosis during year 2008 (California 156,530), Florida (101,920), Texas (96,320), NY (97,130), US diagnosed Cancer Totals – 1,437,180.

States with highest cancer diagnosis during year 2017 (California 176.140), Florida (124,740), Texas (116,200), NY (107,530), US diagnosed “All” Cancer Totals – 1,688,780.

In 2017, there will be an estimated 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed and 600,920 cancer deaths in the US (American Cancer Society, 2017). Get All Cancer Stats Now.

Comparing 2009 – 2017 Pancreatic Diagnosis and Cancer Deaths

Pancreatic Cancer estimates in 2009 ~42,700 people will be diagnosed resulting in ~35,420 deaths will result making it the fourth deadliest cancer (American Cancer Society).

Pancreatic Cancer estimate in 2017 ~53,670 people will be diagnosed resulting in ~43,090 deaths will result making it the fourth deadliest cancer (American Cancer Society). Deaths are evenly split between male and female. See Pancreas Statistics at a Glance

Pancreatic Cancer Risk factors,

“Factors that may increase your risk of pancreatic cancer include:
Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), Diabetes, Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome
Family history of pancreatic cancer, Smoking, Obesity, Older age, as most people are diagnosed after age 65.

A large study demonstrated that the combination of smoking, long-standing diabetes and a poor diet increases the risk of pancreatic cancer beyond the risk of any one of these factors alone (Mayo Clinic, 2017).”


It’s interesting to make comparisons of national cancer statistics to contrast if research and treatment progression has been made in reducing cancer cases nationally – Most specifically pancreatic cancer deaths.

Eight years later after my first article on this topic, I find it alarming – medical science has not  identified the exact physiological cause of pancreatic cancer, or any other form of cancer for that matter. All types of cancer are on the rise. However medical research is narrowing down connected lifestyle, genetic, environment and other illness causing identifiers that increase risk.

Hawaii places 9th in the lowest producing cancer states. Hawaii is also known to have a consistent 73-80 degree days year round.

I believe, “anyone can improve the odds of activating cancer cells within the body – even if genetically predisposed. Simply by making better lifestyle and environmental choices.T

CONSUMER HEALTHY LIFESTYLE KNOWLEDGE IS POWERFUL Apply Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Reduce Cancer Risk

  • The four states with the highest cancer cases increased significantly from 2002-2017.
  • Pancreatic Cancer is still the 4th deadliest cancer.
  • National Cancer cases are on the rise.
  • No one [male/female] is immune from pancreatic cancer, or any cancer for that matter.
  • Genetic predisposition [BRCA2 gene mutation]and Lynch syndrome increases cancer risk.
  • Prevent or Manage diabetes – it increases cancer risk.
  • A high body mole-count may be symptomatic of gene mutated cells. Â See a dermatologist or oncologist.
  • Bad cancer causing habits: alcohol, smoking, restricted-fad diet and sedentary lifestyle.
  • Avoid high fructose diet as research has exposed a likely cancer connection.
  • Balanced diet include all 3 macro-nutrients: proteins, carbs and fats to nourish the body.
  • If you have a dietary obsession with any food(s) or fads, seek behavioral therapy.
  • There are no conclusive studies that show pancreatic cancer is caused by any specific food type [high-fructose diets are suspect].
  • There are studies that show processed food chemicals have cancer causing agents.
  • Unhealthy relationships & environment alter hormone & Cellular DNA & function and cause physiological stress which can cultivate cancer cells.
  • Sedentary lifestyle often leads to obesity, diabetes and heart disease; and known to increase cancer risk.
  • Low-impact aerobic exercise at minimum is needed to sustain healthy immune system and remove toxins that would otherwise nourish cancer cells.
  • Whole foods diet reduces processed food chemical intake and cancer risk.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners, especially hyper-palatable sodas, syrup & coffee creamers.
  • Bad air environments have high Pro-Oxidants [toxic CO pollutants] Dense city development with high smog levels is toxic to respiratory-immune systems.
  • Barbecue – high temp smoke and char temps – are known to be carcinogenic.
  • High-energy radiation from the sun, x-rays, gamma rays, alpha particles, beta particles, and neutrons, can damage DNA and cause skin cancer.
  • Breast cancer tops Prostate Cancer in top 4 cancer states by ~135-190%.
  • Melanoma cancer cases is higher in top 4 cancer states, which are also sunshine states.
  • If cancer runs in family within any of the top 4 cancer states – location may be a factor.
  • If diagnosed with cancer the best odds of beating it -APPLY aggressive treatment regardless of stage of cancer – seek chemotherapy and radiotherapy upon medical recommendation.
  • 10 Lowest-Cancer Producing States in Order: Wyoming (1), Dist. of Columbia (2), Alaska (3), Vermont (4), North Dakota (5), South Dakota (6), Delaware (7), Rhode Island (8), Montana (9), Hawaii (10). Note: RECALL – Per Capita [population] as a percentage of state cancer cases have not been evaluated within this article.


“One huge step forward was the use of radiation to reduce the impact of prostate cancer that spreads to bones. Another was the development of better diagnostics, including PSA tests, which mean that most men are diagnosed while their prostate cancer is still curable (Elster 2017).”


“Bottom line: There is no definite technique to prevent pancreas cancer. However, not smoking, exercising, and eating a proper diet is the best lifestyle choice for overall health (WebMD, 2017).”

Moderation in everything we do is key to healthy longevity, living life to the fullest and staying well.

Good Health to You and Your Family.


  1. American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Statistics. 2017 American Cancer Society, Inc. https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics.html
  2. American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2017. 2017 American Cancer Society, Inc. https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics/all-cancer-facts-figures/cancer-facts-figures-2017.html
  3. Bang Show Biz. Patrick Swayze’s Biggest Regret Was Not Having Kids. Sept 22, 2009. 2017 – Livingly Media, Inc. Zimbio Entertainment.
  4. Brownstein, Joseph. Swayze: Outlived Most With Pancreatic Cancer. Sept. 16, 2009. World Wide Web. ABC News. 2017.
  5. Daniel, Kaayla T., Ph.D., C.C.N. iVegetarian: The High Fructose Diet of Steve Jobs. Jan 19, 2012. Psychology Today. 1991-2017 Sussex Publishers, LLC | HealthProfs.com 2002-2017 Sussex Directories, Inc. World Wide Web 8/12/2017.
  6. Mann, Denise. Patrick Swayze Dies of Pancreatic Cancer. Sept 15, 2009. 2005 – 2017 WebMD, LLC.
  7. Mayo Clinic. 2017. Pancreatic Cancer. 1998-2017 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pancreatic-cancer/symptoms-causes/dxc-20268506
  8. Michael Landon. Broken Permalink. 2009. 11 Aug 2017. http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20114945,00.html)
  9. Michael Landon. Broken Permalink. 2009. 11 Aug 2017. http://www.hollywoodusa.co.uk/HillsideObituaries/michaellandon.htm
  10. MirrorAthlete Articles Repository.
  11. Naomi Elster. Cancer treatment: sorting the good news from the hype. 14 Aug 2017. theguardian, 2017.
  12. Park, Alice. The Pancreatic Cancer that Killed Steve Jobs. 5 Oct 2011. Time. 2017 Time Inc.
  13. WebMD. 2017. Pancreatic Cancer Diet and Prevention. 2005 – 2017 WebMD, LLC.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2019 Copyright. All rights reserved, MirrorAthlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

How Serious is Acute Pancreatitis?


To Do What You Want Should Be Your Most Prized Possession

        How does the pancreas become unhealthy and if it does, what does this mean to your overall health and quality of life experiences?

     Pancreatitis is when the pancreas gland becomes inflamed and its metabolic functions become partially to fully ineffective.  Not only is this life sustaining metabolic function impaired with acute dysfunction, it is also a very painful experience.

     So where is the pancreas located and what’s its role in the bodies overall metabolic function?  The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach and below the liver.  The pancreas has two main functions.  It is responsible for enzyme secretion that aids in the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins and fat.  It also works in harmony with the liquid bile your liver produces to assist in digestion as well.  The bile is stored in the gall bladder, and is also activated when food is consumed.   The liver, pancreas, gall bladder and stomach’s small intestine entry way reside in close proximity to each other.  Together these organs perform a very high level metabolic function to regulate energy and food nutrient absorption through the digestive process.

     The combination of this bile liquid and pancreas hormonal secretion is absorbed through the small intestinal wall after food has been consumed and activated for digestion at the stomach’s exit and small intestine entry way (duodenum). When the pancreas stops producing these digestive enzymes, or these enzymes are blocked from doing their job in the intestines, all sorts of complex health problems can/do occur.

     The second function of the pancreas is the production and release of insulin and glucagon.   The release of these two hormones is responsible for maintaining blood glucose metabolism from the foods you consume for the bodies energy.  These hormones store and release the calorie energy when needed.  When blood sugar stops being regulated optimally by the pancreas, then one becomes diabetic.

     The enzymes secreted from the pancreas become active when absorbed by the small intestine.  However, if the enzymes are not released and held within the gland it becomes inflamed.  These trapped secretions then can begin to eat up the inside tissues of the pancreas after a meal.  At this point, one can bleed internally while the gland begins to experience tissue death.

     How does the pancreas get to a state of cannibalizing and destroying itself?  Let’s take a look at the statistics to hone in on the main culprit.  More cases of pancreatitis are seen in men than women.  And it appears that 70% of the pancreatitis cases in the United States are caused from alcohol abuse.  And 45% of these patients convert an acute condition to chronic due to the alcohol repeatedly inflaming and scarring the gland.  Then the patient experiences varying-to-constant pain in the abdomen and back.  In 10-15% of the total pancreatitis cases the cause of the disease is unknown.

     There are other ways in which acute pancreatitis occur:  Genetics, certain habits and diseases.  And in any case or cause, if the pancreatic ducts become blocked during digestion, the enzymes can become trapped within the pancreas.  Or if the bile secretion becomes blocked (gall stone blockage) this can be very painful and create other digestive ill-health issues. In either case, you’re going to experience a painful medical condition that requires treatment.  Other conditions linked to pancreatitis: Autoimmune problems, damage to ducts through surgery; an accident that damages the gall bladder, or pancreas; and high blood fat levels (hypertriglyceridemia).


     You’ll experience pain tender to touch in upper left side, or middle of abdominal.  And this pain may be worse after eating, or drinking foods higher in fat.  The pain can also radiate to the back below the left shoulder blade and is felt worse when lying on the back.  Other symptoms can include: Indigestion, hiccups, clay-colored stools, skin rash, sores, swollen abdominal and mild yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice).  Due to malabsorption of food, weight loss may be experienced because the gland does not release enzymes necessary to break down the food to feed the body adequately.  And if the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are damaged, diabetes will ensue.

 Diagnostic tests:

     Imaging tests that show pancreas inflammation and damage: Abdominal CT scan, MRI, and ultrasound.  Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and biopsy for tissue sample.  Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to look at bile ducts using contrasts and X-rays.  There is also a pancreatic function test to see what levels of digestive enzymes are being released.  And a glucose tolerance test to measure pancreas insulin production.


     With acute pancreatitis patients are primarily treated with fluids and pain medication.  These attacks usually last a few days.  However if the gland is complicated by necrosis (tissue death), or inflammation, other damage can occur to heart, lungs, or kidneys.  During chronic cases, fluids may need to be drained around pancreas, or gallstones removed.  Blocked pancreas ducts may need to be opened.  In severe cases dead or infected pancreatic tissue may have to be surgically removed.  With chronic pancreatitis, continued alcohol consumption will increase the risk of further health complications.


     With most acute flare-ups, the symptoms after treatment go away in a few days to a week.  However, if acute turns to chronic pancreatitis then life-threatening illness may follow.  The death rate is high with hemorrhagic and necrotizing pancreatitis that can also impair the liver, heart and kidney function.  Pancreatitis can return any time and is really dependent on cause, and patient compliance with treatment and following lifestyle change recommendations.

 Risk Factors and Prevention:

     Avoid alcohol, or limit significantly your consumption of alcohol. A low-fat diet will be helpful to include proper medications for fewer and milder attacks if you experience acute pancreatitis.  Children with fevers should avoid aspirin; also if a child has a viral illness (to reduce the risk to Reye syndrome).  Risk factors for chronic pancreatitis: Alcohol, hereditary conditions (i.e., Cystic fibrosis), gallstone disease, high triglyceride condition and lupus.

     So how serious do you think acute pancreatitis is?  I’d say if you are experiencing early symptoms of an inflamed pancreas, or have had gall stones, or are a diabetic, I’d say your pancreas health is pretty important stuff to pay attention to.  And if you can change your behaviors and habits to never experience pancreatitis, count yourself fortunate.  Why is that?  Because once you have pancreatitis it could become chronic after a period of time.  Then you are looking at a permanent treatment program for life and possibly a painful and early death.

     Can treatment help alleviate and cure the most severe conditions? Of course treatment is going to alleviate much of the discomfort. But once the damage is done, you then become dependent on pharmaceuticals, frequent out/inpatient treatment, diagnostic testing, lab tests, and diet restrictions. This then becomes your cure.


Banks PA, Freeman ML; Practice Parameters Committee of the American College of Gastroenterology. Practice guidelines in acute pancreatitis. Am J Gastroenterol . 2006;101:2379-2400.

 Frossard JL, Steer ML, Pastor CM. Acute pancreatitis. Lancet . 2008;371:143-152.

 Owyang C. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine . 23rd ed.

 Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 147.

1Russo MW, Wei JT, Thiny MT, et al. Digestive and liver disease statistics, 2004. Gastroenterology. 2004;126:1448–1453.




Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2011 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.org,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.