Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Men's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Steve Jobs' Hormonal Imbalance: FAQ

Doctors Weigh In on Steve Jobs' Disclosure of His Hormonal Imbalance
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

steve_jobs_hormone_imbalance_getty.jpg

Jan. 5, 2009 -- Steve Jobs today posted a letter on the Apple web site stating that he has a "hormonal imbalance" that caused him to lose weight throughout 2008, and that he's being treated and staying on the job as Apple's CEO.

In 2004, Jobs had surgery to remove a pancreatic tumor, which he called a very rare form of pancreatic cancer called islet cell neuroendocrine tumor.

But in today's statement, Jobs doesn't mention cancer or his 2004 cancer treatment. Instead, Jobs says he has a "hormonal imbalance that has been 'robbing' me of the proteins that my body needs to be healthy."

Jobs adds that "the remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I've already begun treatment," and that it will take him until spring to regain the weight.

What is a hormonal imbalance and what might it mean about Jobs' health? Here's what four doctors -- who aren't treating Jobs -- told WebMD today.

All four doctors said there isn't a lot of medical information in the statement -- for instance, Jobs doesn't say what hormone or hormones are out of balance. But they read between the lines and offered some perspective.

What are hormones?

"Basically, the definition of a hormone is very simple. It's a chemical your body makes in one place that works in another. It has to be something your body makes and has to be made in one cell and work in a different cell," says Robert Lustig, MD, an endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco. Lustig adds that the body makes hundreds of hormones.

The pancreas -- which is where Jobs had his 2004 tumor -- makes hormones including insulin, which regulates blood sugar, and also releases enzymes into the digestive system, says Bernard A. Roos, MD, director of the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center at the Miami VA and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

What is a hormonal imbalance?

"The imbalance is a manifestation of something wrong with a gland. But then you have to figure out what's wrong with the gland, and unfortunately we can't tell from [Jobs' statement]," Lustig says.

Could Jobs' previous pancreatic tumor be related to his hormonal imbalance?

Maybe, but not necessarily.

"Certainly, the fact that he had a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor back in 2004 puts him at higher risk for another endocrine tumor, of the pancreas or elsewhere. That's true, but that doesn't mean what's going on here, because then it would not be a 'nutritional problem' and certainly would not have a simple treatment," says Lustig.

Could Jobs' hormonal imbalance be related to his 2004 surgery to remove the pancreatic tumor?

It's possible. But exactly what that surgery involved -- such as how much of the pancreas was removed -- hasn't been made public; all Jobs has said about it in the past is that he was "fine" after the operation.

Today on WebMD

Life Cycle of a Penis
Slideshow
Preacher Curl
Slideshow
 
testosterone molecule
Article
Xray of foot highlighting gout
Slideshow
 
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Slideshow
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Quiz
 
Man taking blood pressure
Slideshow
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
Condom Quiz
Quiz
thumbnail_angry_couple_in_bed
Slideshow
 
man running
Quiz
woman holding hand to ear
Slideshow