Did Ashton Kutcher Go Too Far to Be Like Steve Jobs?

With  Joshua Michael Stern’s Steve Jobs biopic, jOBS , opening  today we thought it appropriate to revisit the story we did back in January about what happened to actor Ashton Kutcher as he prepared to play the role of the iconic figure:

Kutcher, who considered Jobs one of his idols, wanted to be as realistic as possible. To that end, he watched hundreds of hours of footage of Jobs to get the feel of his speech and his walk. He read the books that Jobs read, and after reading a book by Arnold Ehret Mucusless Diet Healing System: Scientific Method of Eating Your Way to Health, Kutchner even adopted Job’s fruitarian diet.

That may have turned out to be a big mistake.  As Kutcher told the Associated Press, besides losing 15-18 pounds:

I ended up in the hospital two days before we started shooting the movie…. I was like doubled over in pain, and my pancreas levels were completely out of whack, which was completely terrifying, considering everything.

That “considering everything” seems to be alluding to Steve Jobs’ death in 2011 of what many call “pancreatic cancer.” As Celebrity Diagnosis readers are well aware, Jobs did not die of adenocarcinoma of the pancreas (what we think about when we think about pancreatic cancer), but of a much rarer PNET (pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor).

So, getting back to the story- this leads me to two questions:

What illness did Ashton Kutcher have?

pancreasBased on his symptoms of abdominal pain and elevated pancreatic enzyme levels, Kutcher most likely was suffering from acute pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas – the organ which releases a mixture of digestive juices into the intestines to help break down food.

The most common cause of acute pancreatitis is the presence of gallstones—small, pebble-like substances made of hardened bile—that cause inflammation in the pancreas as they pass through the common bile duct.

Chronic, heavy alcohol use is also a common cause. Acute pancreatitis can occur within hours or as long as 2 days after consuming alcohol. Other causes of acute pancreatitis include abdominal trauma, medications, infections, tumors, and genetic abnormalities of the pancreas.

What is a fruitarian diet and what are the risks?

fruitFruitarianism is a subset of dietary veganism. It involves the practice of following a diet that includes fruits, nuts and seeds, without animal products, vegetables and grains.

According to nutritionists, adults must be careful not to follow a fruit-only diet for too long as it can lead to nutritional deficiencies, such as:

  • Calcium Deficiency: Because a fruitarian diet excludes common sources of calcium such as milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified cereal, calcium deficiency can occur. This can lead to weak bones (osteoporosis), which are more likely to fracture.
  • Vitamin B-12 Deficiency: Natural Vitamin B-12 sources are limited to foods that come from animals. Like other vegans, fruitarians must take supplemental B-12 to prevent pernicious anemia, or neurological problems associated with B-12 deficiency.
  • Iron-deficiency Anemia: Low iron leads to low blood counts, causing fatigue, paleness, and increased risk of infection.

Fruitarianism is not recommended for teenagers or children as it can lead to growth-retardation.

We could find no evidence that a frutarian diet is related to either inflammation or tumors of the pancreas.


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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