Is Apple CEO Steve Jobs greatly underplaying his health concerns? Is a hormone imbalance the only reason for his weight loss last year? Has his cancer come back? And will he be well enough to return from a medical leave of absence that will last until late June?
Outliers: Medical privacy? Steve Jobs health is front-page news
These are just some unanswered questions that have come up since the 53-year-old Jobs announced on Jan. 5 that a hormone imbalance is the reason he will not deliver the companys annual Macworld Conference & Expo speech. That was followed by an e-mail message to Apple employees on Jan. 14, in which Jobs said that he would take a leave of absence from the company, even though he will still be involved in strategic decisions at Apple.
Bloomberg reported Jan. 21 that the Securities and Exchange Commission has started to investigate disclosures about Jobs health problems, but John Heine, deputy director for public affairs at the SEC, says the commission could neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of any investigation.
In an age when medical privacy is becoming more and more of a hot-button issue, such privacy seems to be unattainable for top-level executives, especially those who are as well-known as Jobs.
Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well, Jobs wrote. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.
But others are calling for more information. In his Executive Suite blog for the New York Times, Joe Nocerawho had an off-the-record phone conversation last summer with Jobssays the issue will continue to be a distraction until the company talks more openly about Jobs health. Last week, Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman, said the company had nothing to add beyond what was in the correspondence from Jobs earlier this month.
In 2004, Jobs had a pancreaticoduodenectomy, commonly known as a Whipple Procedure, which successfully removed a cancerous tumor in his liver. At a conference last fall, Jobs included a slide with his blood-pressure reading and said that would be the extent to which hed discuss his health.
On Jan. 16, Bloomberg news service reported that Jobs is considering a liver transplant as a result of complications after treatment in 2004. However, Bloomberg was the same news outlet that posted an obituary for Jobs last year. Jobs had a slide for that, too: quoting Mark Twain, Jobs said, The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
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