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The National Enquirer gives Steve Jobs 6 weeks to live

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The tech world runs on rumors. But this is one we’d rather not have to report: Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs, who is on indefinite medical leave from his company due to undisclosed health complications, has a mere six weeks to live, according to the National Enquirer.

That’s right, the National Enquirer — not exactly the most reputable publication in the world. So, needless to say, this particular “revelation” should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Here’s what we know for sure: Photographs of Jobs looking particularly thin while walking into the Stanford Cancer Center in Palo Alto, California, appear in the notorious grocery store tabloid’s most recent issue. The authenticity of the photos has been further supported by celebrity news site RadarOnline, which says it has received confirmation that Jobs is receiving treatment for cancer at Stanford. The pictures of Jobs were reportedly taken on Tuesday, February 8, at the Stanford Cancer Center, a day after the chief executive had put in a full day’s work at Apple.

The photos represent the first concrete evidence that Jobs is in fact suffering from cancer, the details of which Jobs has refused to release.

The morbid “six weeks to live” estimate was delivered to the Enquirer by Dr. Gabe Mirkin and Dr. Samuel Jacobson — neither of whom have seen Jobs in person. They make their claims based entirely on what they saw in the photos.

“Judging from the photos, he is close to terminal,” says Dr. Jacobson, a critical care physician. “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.”

Jobs, who turns 56 on February 24, handed over day-to-day responsibilities to Apple’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, last month. Upon announcement of his leave, Jobs wrote:

“At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.

“I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.”

Later reports show that Jobs, who also underwent a liver transplant in 2009, has maintained a high level of oversight at Apple, and continues to take part in the tech giant’s “major strategic decisions,” according to an Apple spokeswoman.

The only possible reason to believe this story is because the National Enquirer was right at least one time, when it reported that former presidential candidate John Edwards was having an affair. He indeed was.

This story, on the other hand, lacks any real authority. That doesn’t mean it’s not true, of course. But it does mean we can still hope, for the sake of Steve Jobs and his family — and potentially the future of Apple Inc. — that they’ve got it wrong once again. Fingers crossed.