Obese Patients With Pancreatic Cancer Have Shorter Survival …

Obese Patients With Pancreatic Cancer Have Shorter Survival, Study Finds

People with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) — A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer usually carries with it a poor prognosis, and the news may be even worse for those who are obese: It could mean dying two to three months sooner than pancreatic cancer patients of normal weight, new research shows.

Prior studies have tied obesity to a higher chance of getting pancreatic cancer, but the new study asked whether the disease affects the tumor’s aggressiveness and the patient’s overall survival.

“[The new research] adds to the growing body of evidence that obesity is linked to cancer,” said Dr. Smitha Krishnamurthi, an associate professor of medicine at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

The study was published Oct. 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Krishnamurthi was not involved in the new study, but did write a related journal commentary.

Because it is so often asymptomatic and is detected late, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most deadly tumor types. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 45,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and it will claim over 38,000 lives.

In the new study, a team led by Dr. Brian Wolpin, an assistant professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, collected data on more than 900 patients with pancreatic cancer who took part in either the Nurses’ Health Study or the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. These patients were diagnosed during a 24-year period, the researchers said.

After diagnosis, the patients lived for an average of only five months. Normal-weight patients, however, lived two to three months longer than obese patients, the researchers found.

This association remained strong even after the researchers took into account factors such as age, sex, race, ethnicity, smoking and the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. The study did not, however, prove a cause-and-effect relationship between weight and length of survival.

In addition, obese patients were more likely to have more advanced cancer at the time they were diagnosed compared with normal-weight patients. Overall, the cancer had already showed signs of spreading in 72 percent of obese patients at the time of diagnosis, compared with 59 percent of normal-weight patients.

It also seemed to matter how long the patient had been obese — the association between weight and survival was strongest for the 202 patients who were obese 18 to 20 years before being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Krishnamurthi said the reasons for the link aren’t clear. She said the study can’t tell us whether shorter survival in obese patients “was due to biologic changes that can occur in obesity, such as increased inflammation in the body, or whether the obesity caused other conditions that interfered with the treatment of pancreatic cancer.”

Diabetes drugs may be linked to pancreatic cancer

A British Medical Journal (BMJ) investigation into two classes of type 2 diabetes drugs has prompted headlines in the Daily Mail.

The newspaper claims, “Diabetes drugs taken by thousands linked to cancer of the pancreas and other serious health problems,” going on to allege that drug manufacturers may be trying to hide potentially harmful side effects.

It is important to stress that there is no evidence of any legal or regulatory wrongdoing by any of the drug companies mentioned in the BMJ article.

The BMJ investigation focused on two relatively new classes of type 2 diabetes drugs collectively known as “incretin mimetics”. There are two main types of incretin mimetic:

  • glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists, such as exenatide, which help boost insulin production while decreasing blood sugar levels – the drug also has the added benefit of leading to modest weight loss
  • dipeptidylpeptidase-4 inhibitors (DPP-4), such as sitagliptin, which block the effects of an enzyme that can have a harmful impact on blood sugar levels

Neither of these drugs are first-line treatments for people with type 2 diabetes. Instead, they tend to be used if first-choice drugs are not working well enough by themselves.

As both types of drugs act on the pancreas, concerns have been raised that they may also have adverse effects on the organ. The article discusses these concerns and the evidence behind them.

This evidence includes the results of animal studies and reports from medicines regulatory agencies which suggest that the drugs may increase the risk of inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and could also lead to cancerous changes in the tissue of the pancreas, triggering pancreatic cancer.

From the evidence discussed, it does appear that there may be an increased risk of these drugs having adverse effects, but further safety studies are needed to confirm this. People may be reassured that the bodies that regulate medication are aware of the potential risks and will be carefully reviewing the safety of these drugs.

For now, anyone with diabetes who has concerns about their treatment should speak with the healthcare professionals involved in their care. The risk to your health of suddenly stopping treatment for type 2 diabetes are likely to far outweigh any potential risk of harm to your pancreas.

Where did the story come from?

The news stems from an article published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal (BMJ) written by Deborah Cohen, the BMJ investigations editor. The article has been made available on an open access basis, so it is free to read or download.

No sources of funding or conflicts of interest are reported.

The article states that, “In the course of this investigation, the BMJ has reviewed thousands of pages of regulatory documents obtained under freedom of information and found unpublished data.”

Specific methods for identifying and selecting these documents are not presented in the article, so it is not clear whether all the evidence related to this issue has been considered. The BMJ investigation also raised specific questions directly with drugs manufacturers.

What is the BMJ article about?

Cohen discusses two types of diabetes medication that both work in two main ways:

  • increasing the production of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps the body’s cells take up blood sugar (glucose) to use it for energy
  • suppressing glucagon secretion, another hormone released by the pancreas which has the opposite effect of insulin, causing the liver to release its glucose stores to increase blood sugar

The two types of medication under the spotlight are glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists and dipeptidylpeptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors. Neither of these drugs are first-line treatments for type 2 diabetes, but may be considered if first-line treatments are not working effectively on their own.

The GLP-1 agonist group includes two drugs called exenatide and liraglutide. In addition to increasing insulin release and suppressing glucagon, these drugs also slow stomach emptying. For this reason they can also help prevent weight gain.

Currently, GLP-1 agonists may be considered for people whose diabetes has not been controlled by standard first-line treatments, such as metformin and sulfonylurea, and who are obese (BMI above 35kg/m2).

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) currently recommends that treatment with these drugs should only be continued if the person demonstrates adequate blood sugar control and has lost at least 3% of their body weight within six months.

The DPP-4 inhibitor group includes the drugs linagliptin, saxagliptin, sitagliptin and vildagliptin. There are specific types of people who are considered suitable to take these drugs.

Broadly, they may also be prescribed when standard treatment with a combination of first-choice drugs for diabetes (metformin and sulfonylurea) has either failed to control blood sugar, is inappropriate, or alternative diabetes drugs are inappropriate. Again, these drugs should only be continued if there is adequate blood sugar control.

What does the BMJ article say about these diabetes drugs?

Because incretin mimetics stimulate the cells of the pancreas, there is the potential that they may also have adverse effects on the organ.

Recently, experts have had increasing concerns about the safety of incretin mimetics. In February 2013 an independent analysis of health insurance data found that people taking exenatide and sitagliptin were at twice the risk of being admitted to hospital with inflammation of the pancreas (acute pancreatitis) compared with people taking other diabetic drugs.

The actual size of the risk to the individual was low – only 0.6%, or six in every 1,000 people taking the drugs. But even if individual risk is low, health watchdogs have to consider the fact that these types of drugs are taken by hundreds of thousands of people.

In April 2013, analysis of data from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also showed increases in cases of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer among people taking incretin mimetics compared with those taking other diabetic drugs.

Both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are said to have confirmed to the BMJ that their own analyses also show increased reports of pancreatic cancer with these drugs.

However, the agencies have emphasised that this does not necessarily mean that the drugs directly cause these adverse effects. It could possibly be the case that it is type 2 diabetes itself, rather than the drugs, that is increasing the risk of pancreatic cancer.

In March 2013, both agencies said that they would review study data showing that some organ donors who had taken incretin mimetics have demonstrated pre-cancerous changes in the pancreas.

Despite these findings, the risks are said to be fiercely contested by manufacturers. The drug company Merck has presented data from a pooled review of almost 34,000 people who have taken DPP-4 inhibitors and found no connection with pancreatic cancer.

However, other manufacturers appear to have some concerns about inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) related to the use of these drugs. Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca have sent a letter to the UK Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) saying: “A review of reports o

f pancreatitis from post-marketing experience revealed that signs of pancreatitis occurred after the start of saxagliptin treatment and resolved after discontinuation, which is suggestive of a causal relationship. Moreover, pancreatitis has been recognised as an adverse event for other DPP-4 inhibitors.”

The BMJ article goes on to further discuss the “increasingly fractious debate among scientists and doctors played out last month in the specialty journal Diabetes Care”, before going on to discuss the problems that have been observed in animals given the drugs:

  • Diabetic rats were given sitagliptin, metformin, or a combination of both drugs. Rats given sitagliptin had problems in their pancreas – enlargement, pancreatitis, or changes in the cells that could indicate early cancerous changes. At an ensuing meeting between experts and manufacturers held at the American Diabetes Association, one expert stated that the results in rats could suggest an increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer and that if the results were true, the future of the drugs could be in doubt. However, he said that, “concern had to be balanced against the lack of data indicating similar effects in humans.” Other experts suggested that the rat model used was not reliable.
  • A study in mice genetically predisposed to developing pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer found that they developed pancreatitis and pre-cancerous changes more quickly when given exenatide. Another study in non-diabetic rats also showed overgrowth in the cells of their pancreatic ducts when given exenatide. Supporters of the drugs question the methods used in these studies.
  • There is disputed evidence from monkeys that suggests that there may be an increase in pancreas weight among young healthy monkeys given liraglutide.

The BMJ article also discusses lawsuits in the USA related to the possible link between exenatide and acute pancreatitis. This led to a judge allowing an independent pathologist to review the manufacturer’s slides of slices of pancreas from monkeys treated with exenatide – the manufacturer reportedly initially refused access to these slides. The pathologist found more chronic inflammation and pancreatic disease in the treated monkeys than untreated controls.

A team from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) analysed data from 2004-09 recorded in the FDA adverse event database. It found that the odds of pancreatitis were increased about six- to tenfold with exenatide and sitagliptin, and the odds of pancreatic cancer increased just under threefold with both drugs. The team noted the limitations of their study and advised that it was interpreted with caution.

Industry representatives and medical societies were reported to have heavily criticised the methods of the original study – for example, saying that it did not include information about other factors that could affect the results (potential confounders)

A later analysis by the US Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) found that all five incretin mimetics were together associated with more than 25 times the rate of pancreatitis than that seen in people with diabetes taking other drugs. The DPP-4 inhibitors were associated with 13.5 times higher rates of pancreatic cancer, and the GLP-1 agonists had rates 23 times higher than other diabetic drugs.

For some of the drugs (linagliptin and saxagliptin) there was only a single case of pancreatic cancer, and changes in risk were not significant.

What did the BMJ article conclude?

The BMJ article raises concerns their investigation found that, despite misgivings about the safety of these drugs, “companies have not done critical safety studies; nor have regulators requested them”, and that, “access to raw data that would have helped resolve doubts about the safety of these drugs has been denied”.

It says that although the individual pieces of evidence may seem inconclusive, a “more coherent and worrying picture emerges” when they are “considered alongside other emerging and longstanding evidence”.

Conclusion

This article presents important concerns that glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists and dipeptidylpeptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors could potentially increase the risk of inflammation and cancerous changes in the pancreas.

The agencies that regulate medicines in Europe and the USA are aware of these issues, and told the BMJ that their analyses show increased reporting of pancreatic cancer among people taking these types of drugs.

However, the agencies note that it has not been established whether these drugs directly cause the adverse effects seen in the pancreas. Both agencies are reviewing emerging evidence on safety in this area.

For now, anyone with diabetes who has been prescribed these drugs and has concerns should speak with the healthcare professionals involved in their care.

Do not stop taking any diabetes medication unless you are advised to do so by the doctor in charge of your care. If you stop taking this medication without medical advice, you are at a much higher risk of developing complications related to diabetes, such as heart disease, strokekidney damage and even blindness, than you are at risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

 

Information

This article was originally published by NHS Choices

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Bill Hicks succumbed to pancreatic cancer

Bill Hicks

Bill Hicks was best known as an American stand-up comedian and his routines offered a satirical and often angry commentary on social, political and philosophical issues, as well as what he liked to call “dick jokes“. He died of pancreatic cancer aged just 32 and only gained real acclaim years afterwards, but it is widely felt that he made his stamp on comedy early on and should be recognised for the continuing relevance of his work.

William Melvin Hicks (commonly known as Bill) was born in 1961 in Georgia. He lived a nomadic childhood, moving from place to place with his parents and siblings before finally settling in Texas at the age of seven. Hicks was brought up a Baptist and found his interest in comedy at Sunday school where he performed to other kids. His strong opinions on religion as a ‘concept which is no longer relevant’ to us as evolving humans, could perhaps be traced back to his childhood.

The young performer drew inspiration from greats such as Woody Allen and Richard Pryor. In a collection of letters, lyrics and routines entitled Bill Hicks: Love All The People, the comedian talks about how by the time he was 17 his parents had become so worried about his behaviour they took him to see a psychoanalyst who eventually informed him “It’s them, not you“.

At the age of 21, Hicks decided to break from the constraints of his upbringing and began to experiment with alcohol and drugs. Although these gave him confidence to explore new avenues in his work he eventually had to quit, realising that the consequences would compromise his health and ability to perform. Nevertheless the theme of drugs and alcohol features heavily in his stand-up routines and is tied in with his life-long aim to expose the truth, no matter how controversial: “I don’t do drugs anymore, but I want to tell you something. I know it’s not a very popular concept these days, but…I had a great time doing drugs,“ he once told his audience.

Hicks was always very open and forward about his distrust of politicians, “I hope you know this – I think you do – all governments are lying c**ksuckers“ but even more-so those tied up in religion. In a mock address to televangelist Pat Robertson, he once said: “Go back to Virginia, marry your daughter, and stay out of my life, you Nazi hillbilly f**k!”

Bill Hicks

Bill Hicks may have upset a lot of people but he enlightened a whole lot more.

An invitation to appear on the David Letterman Show in 1984 should have been Hicks’ big break but a “handicap joke“ he regularly used on his tours (which was part of a gag aimed at former smokers and in no way offensive towards wheelchair bound people) didn’t go down well with NBC producers and his performance was subsequently cut. Another appearance on the show in 1993 was also cut due to concern over Hicks’ “anti-religious“ jokes. The routine was eventually played in full in 2009, when Hicks’ mother Mary appeared as a guest.

In April 1993 Bill was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer whilst on tour in Australia. He complained of pains in his side and was told that the cancer had spread to his liver. Despite the diagnosis and weekly chemotherapy he continued to perform, delivering his last stand-up in New York on January 4 1994. He died at his parents’ home in Arkansas the following month.

Shortly before his death, Hicks wrote a prayer which he requested to be released as his “last words“ following his death. It concludes: “I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.“

Luciano Pavarotti died from pancreatic cancer

Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2006 the operatic legend lived for just over one year with the disease before his life ended in September 2007 at the age of 71.

In 2005 the classically trained singer underwent neck surgery and back surgery in 2006, but after those procedures various complications developed.

Pavarotti was forced to cancel several concerts in the USA, UK and Canada and his decision to retire from performing was also made around that time. It was during the “farewell tour“ that the star was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

In the same month he underwent further surgery at an undisclosed New York hospital. His manager at the time, Terri Robinson, assured the public that the tenor was doing well and doctors remained positive, the Washington Post reporting: “Fortunately, the mass was able to be completely removed at surgery … Mr. Pavarotti is recovering well, and his physicians are encouraged by the physical and emotional resilience of their patient.”

Over 40,000 individuals in the USA are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year, with around 80% eventually dying as a result of the disease. The survival rate is relatively low and only around 5% of those having contracted the illness live for more than five years beyond diagnosis. Despite those daunting statistics Terri Robinson remained optimistic that the Farewell Tour would resume in early 2007.

Luciano Pavarotti lost his fight with pancreatic cancer

Luciano Pavarotti lost his fight with pancreatic cancer

In the year before his death Pavarotti underwent five rounds of chemotherapy and was hospitalised after contracting a fever in August.

 

Following his death, Terri Robinson released a statement saying: “The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life … In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness.”

The singer, who became heavily associated with his acclaimed performance of Nessun Dorma, from Puccini’s Turandot, was said to have remained collected until the very end by his doctor, Antonio Frassoldati, who said that the tenor was “always totally conscious of the situation, he always sought to fight the disease… and he was very calm”.

Luciano Pavarotti has been hailed for bringing opera to a wider audience and his voice became the mark of the 1990 football World Cup. He commented: “We’ve reached 1.5 billion people with opera … If you want to use the word commercial, or something more derogatory, we don’t care. Use whatever you want”, the BBC reported.

Jamaican PM David Thompson lost to pancreatic cancer

David Thompson

Jamaican prime minister, David Thompson, died yesterday, a victim of pancreatic cancer, making him the third Barbados leader in 25 years who has died in office.

The leader had been seriously ill after being officially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September.

Deputy PM Freundel Stuart who had taken over from Thompson during his illness has since been sworn in as the country’s new leader.

Thompson, who had been Jamaican leader since 2008, delivered an address to the nation last month that was broadcast on the radio so that people would focus on his words, rather than his emaciated appearance.

Messages of condolence have been issued by other Caribbean leaders following his passing. Denzil Douglas, PM of St Kitts and Nevis, said: “It is a loss to not only the people of Barbados, but also the people of the Caribbean.”

According to the Jamaican Observer, Thompson was the protege of Errol Barrow, the founder of the Democratic Labour Party who famously led the country into independence 44 years ago.

Other celebrities who have battled with pancreatic cancer include opera legend Luciano Pavarotti, jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie, actor Patrick Swayze and Bollywood star Nargis Dutt.

Image: jamaica-gleaner.com

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passes away

From humble beginnings in his garage, Steven P. Jobs co-founded one of most successful companies in the world. It was announced yesterday, Wednesday 5th October, 2011 that he had lost his long running battle with pancreatic cancer.

Steve Jobs was the father of Apple and progenitor of modern day computing. His company manufactured innovative personal computing machines which ushered in a new age of digital technology and productivity without the needless complications associated with anything Bill Gates touches.

Steve Jobs in better health

Strangely, on the day Apple officially unveiled the iPhone 4s, the latest dual core version of the extremely popular and super-user-friendly app driven gadget, Jobs passed away at the age of 56 due to complications arising from the disease which had plagued him for so many years.

Jobs’ vision was second to none; he was a man who transformed the way we communicate, listen to music, watch films, play and produce our work and so, even though his death is sad news, today is a day to celebrate the life and work of someone who has given so much to the world of technology and helped revolutionise modern computing.

Steve Jobs after therapy for pancreatic cancer and his return to Apple

It wasn’t always and easy journey for the young inventor though but he always thanked his crazy decision to drop out of college as his first Apple Macintosh would never have come to fruition. Indeed his early college days were largely a disaster because like so many people he was unsure what to do with his life.

His working class upbringing had given him a strong grounding and after feeling that he’d been wasting his parents’ money on an education he saw no value in, Jobs started opting out of classes that were of no interest. He was having a difficult time of it; living on a friend’s floor while he studied and walking across town every Sunday to the Hare Krishna temple, a seven mile journey, where he received a free but excellent meal.

Steve Jobs presents the Apple Macbook while his health is visibly deteriorating.

After enrolling at Reed College he discovered the art of calligraphy, a skill he thought would have no practical application in his life at all, but what he learned about Serif and Sans Serif, line spacing and typefaces shaped his design with the first Apple Macintosh.

The company famously grew to monumental proportions since its inception in 1976 and shrewd investment in the best programmers, designers and thinkers has seen Apple become a most revered brand.

Much talk today will be of whether Apple can sustain its growth and innovation without Steve Jobs, or if their market shares will crash or consumers will turn away from them. That should be a discussion for another day, if at all, for a man’s life is far more valuable than a market share or cheap speculation and Steve Jobs deserves better than that.

The changing face of Steve Jobs as pancreatic cancer took its toll on his health.

In his own words, he reflects on how his life began to move so fast after a difficult start and with it showed a humble philosophy and positive edge to his way of life.

He spoke of connecting the dots in life and how this can only be done by looking back at it. For the future, he said, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect.

Whether he truly believed in a higher power or not, his words carry a powerful message and hope that even though life is short, you can achieve anything you want through positive thinking and a lot of dedication.

RIP Steve Jobs.

Please share your thoughts on the life, work and death of Steve Jobs by leaving a comment.

Read our previous coverage on his battle with pancreatic cancer and life expectancy, or take a look at other celebrities who suffered with pancreatic cancer such as Bill Hicks, Patrick Swayze and Luciano Pavarotti.

images: telegraph.co.uk, cwd,techcrunch.com

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has just weeks to live according to report

As we reported last month, Apple guru and founder member Steve Jobs has taken a third leave of absence, but it appears now that he only has a short time to live as he is said to be suffering with a recurrence of pancreatic cancer which he was first diagnosed with in 2004.

Jobs released a statement late on in January which said, “At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health.”

Staff at Apple say they have seen him in the offices since then and word is he’s still pulling the strings from his home.

The story is being run by the National Enquirer who featured a very gaunt and grey looking Jobs on their cover stating that the creator of the iPod, iPad and iPhone has just six weeks left to live due to pancreatic cancer.

The 55 year old computer entrepreneur looks a shadow of himself in the images and his clothes hang loosely about his 6ft 2 in frame.  As of yet the pictures haven’t made their way onto the internet, but they do show a man losing weight at an alarming rate, and he is recorded at 130lb (from 175lb before this latest cancer scare). They also say that his thinning hair is an indication of chemotherapy which is verified by photos taken on February 8th of him seen at the Stanford Cancer Centre in California.

Dr Jerome Spunberg told the enquirer that: ‘Mr Jobs is most likely getting outpatient chemotherapy at Stanford because the cancer has recurred.’

Another physician, Dr Gabe Mirkin, said: ‘He is terminal. What you are seeing is extreme muscle wasting from calorie deprivation, most likely caused by cancer. He has no muscle left in his buttocks, which is the last place to go. He definitely appears to be in the terminal stages of his life from these photos. I would be surprised if he weighed more than 130lb.’

[adsense]Dr Samuel Jacobson, a Critical Care physician told the Enquirer: ‘Judging from the photos, he is close to terminal. I would say he has six weeks. He is emaciated and looks to have lost a lot of muscle mass, which spells a poor prognosis.’

The real crux of the issue though is sadly not Mr. Jobs’ health, but rather the effect his ill health or possible death will have on Apple share prices. It’s a sad indictment of our times that a man’s financial worth is placed before his health.

Share your thoughts on Steve Jobs’ health by leaving a comment.

Read our previous coverage of Steve Jobs, and Bill Hicks, Patrick Swayze, Aretha Franklin, and Luciano Pavarotti who all battled with pancreatic cancer.

images: images.businessweek.com, slashgear.com

Aretha Franklin honored at the Grammy 2011 awards

Aretha Franklin is back in the news today after a stirring tribute was paid to the veteran soul singer at the 2011 Grammy Award ceremony last night; but fans are still wondering what her mystery illness is.

The ailing Memphis born legend was unable to attend the awards in person but she did feature thanks to a pre-recorded video message which was broadcast as part of the show. In the clip she thanked friends, family and fans for their ongoing support in her time of illness; although it’s still unclear what that illness actually is.

Speculation was rife a few months back that Franklin was suffering with pancreatic cancer, and the news came from a supposed family member, but Aretha quickly quashed that rumour during an interview with Access Hollywood, in which she said, “I don’t know where ‘pancreatic cancer’ came from, I was sitting there reading the newspaper and it was saying someone in my family said that. No one in my family ever said that to anybody.”

She underwent surgery towards the end of last year to rectify the anonymous problem which seems to have done the trick, as she is looking healthier and slimmer again.

The one time star of The Blues Brothers received a special homage thanks to the vocal talents of Christina Aguilera who is still making amends for the heinous error she made at the Super Bowl XLV when singing the wrong words to the national anthem.

[adsense]Jennifer Hudson also took part in the tribute and she has just finished working with Clive Davis of Arista Records, who in turn is looking forward to a new decade of projects with Aretha Franklin, provided her health holds up.

The 68 year old still has an incredible voice and is widely regarded as the queen of soul. Whatever the illness was she seems to be on the better side of it now and by all accounts will be back to doing what she does best in the very near future.

Please share your thoughts on Aretha Franklin’s recovery from her mystery illness by leaving a comment.

Read about Aretha at the basketball, her statement just after surgery, pancreatic cancer, thanks to her fans, the original rumor about cancer, and her being in great spirits.

images: missxpose.com, losangeles.diarystar.com

Aretha Franklin all smiles at basketball game 2 months after surgery

The star of hits such as Respect and Think looked healthy  and in good spirits when she  watched the Detroit Pistons play Miami Heat with the Reverend Jesse Jackson in what is believed to be one of her first public appearances since undergoing surgery two months ago.

During a break a big screen showed Franklin waving to the crowd and laughing, while some of her songs played over the sound system. “I’m feeling great. Loving the game, loving the game,” Franklin said, going on to add that she hopes to resume her public schedule in May.

In November last year the Queen of Soul was ordered by doctors to cancel all her concerts and personal appearances until May 2011 after she spent a week in hospital for a “serious illness”, which has since been confirmed as incurable pancreatic cancer.

The National Enquirer says the prognosis for the Say a Little Prayer singer, 68, is poor, with the survival rate at 5%-10%. Her age and being overweight lower her chances of recovery further.

In December, however, the 68 year old  — who also broke two ribs in a fall last summer — underwent surgery and she told fans that the procedure was “highly successful”.

Things certainly seem to be looking up for the star: according to Showbiz, Aretha is next planning to soak up some rays and relax on holiday  at a “fabulous beach”.

Read here about Patrick Swayze, who lost his life to pancreatic cancer last year.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

An Apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away for Steve Jobs

Steven P. Jobs, current chief executive and one of the original founders of Apple, is set to take a medical leave of absence, according to a statement released by the Californian company this morning. Jobs has been back at work for 18 months since recovering from a liver transplant.

Mr. Jobs made the announcement through a letter to his staff in which he said he would be stepping aside “so I can focus on my health” but he would continue to involve himself in major strategic decisions where the company was concerned.

“I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can,” Mr. Jobs said.

The last time Jobs took leave of absence back in 2009, the running of daily affairs was covered by Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, and the same will happen this time.

“I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011,” said Mr. Jobs in his letter to Apple staff.

Mr. Jobs fell victim to pancreatic cancer but successful surgery in 2004 led to a full recovery from that illness, although ever since then he has suffered with related health issues. In January 2009, Steven Jobs went on  medical leave during which time he flew to Tennessee for a liver transplant; apparently done secretively.

Apple released a press statement in June 2009, informing investors and buyers that Steven P. Jobs was back at work, and he subsequently made his first public appearance following his operation in September that year.

Onlookers reported that even though he maintained his unique character and was equally energetic and enthusiastic while delivering news on Apple’s new products, he looked gaunt.

Since then, Mr. Jobs has delivered more public show pieces to demonstrate new Apple gadgets including the iPhone 4 and the iPad media tablet, during which he continued to look gaunt, despite his best efforts to remain energetic and excited.

At an event in July 2010, a reporter asked Mr. Jobs about his health, to which he replied, “I’m feeling great.”

According to people close to him his appearance has deteriorated in recent months and he is looking more frail than ever. In his letter to the staff on Monday, Mr. Jobs requsted privacy, saying, “My family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.”

[adsense]His previous leave of absence, which was kept private by the company, led some shareholders to criticise the handling of the situation, claiming that Apple had (and still has) an obligation to its investors to be more forthcoming with information that could affect share prices.

Many will be concerned that Steven P. Jobs is again suffering with cancer, and his surprise decision to take leave certainly indicates that his health is in worse condition than we are led to believe.

Please share your thoughts on the health condition of Steven P. Jobs by leaving a comment.

Read more about pancreatic cancer, and its battle with Bill Hicks, Aretha Franklin, Patrick Swayze, Dizzy Gillespie, David Thompson and Luciano Pavarotti.

images: yaseen.co.za, novaonline.nvcc.edu