Being severely starved as a kid during the Nazi occupation of Holland caused Audrey Hepburn, a movie star, ballet dancer, model, and philanthropist, to emerge from World War II weighing only 88 pounds in a 5’6″ frame. She had always been very slender. At age 63, she passed away from an extremely rare appendix cancer.

She is one of the select few performers to have received three Best British Actress BAFTA Awards in addition to Oscar, Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Awards. She was ranked third among all “Greatest Female Stars of All Time” by the American Film Institute.

Her humanitarian work and status as a Hollywood star were recognized by a commemorative stamp from the US Postal Service.

In addition, she received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom for her efforts with UNICEF in assisting countless youngsters in Asia, Africa, and South America.

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Her Illness and Death from A Cancer Called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei

audrey hepburn illness

When she was 62 years old and experiencing stomach pain, her doctors discovered a malignancy called pseudomyxoma peritonei in her appendix. This rare form of cancer first appears as a little polyp in the appendix. Mucin, a type of abundant mucus produced by cancer cells, steadily builds up in the appendix until it bursts.

The mucus and cancer cells subsequently spread throughout the entire abdominal cavity, resulting in discomfort, loss of appetite, constipation or diarrhoea, and excessive exhaustion. Hepburn traveled back to Switzerland, where she spent her final days. She passed away while sleeping on January 20, 1993.

There are no known genetic, family, or environmental factors that could be the source of this terrible malignancy, thus no one knows what it is. We don’t know if Hepburn’s risk of developing cancer later in life was elevated as a result of experiencing extreme food insecurity as a child.

According to the literature, long-term calorie restriction can sometimes help treat cancer in humans (Cancer Metab, Mar 7, 2013;1(10); Recent Results Cancer Res, 2016;207:241-66) as well as prevent diabetes, nerve damage, and cancer in animals (Nature, 2012;489:318-321) and humans (Trends Pharmacol Sci, Feb 2010;31(2):89-98).

But in the female survivors of the Jewish Holocaust (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2009;101:1489-1500), the Siege of Leningrad, and the 1944 Dutch “Hunger Winter,” which Hepburn experienced, severe calorie restriction in childhood was discovered to be associated with a significantly increased risk for breast cancer (Int J Cancer, 2009;124:1416–1421).

audrey hepburn illness

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Additionally, research indicates that women who were subjected to these severe calorie restrictions as children have a higher chance of developing colon cancer as adults (International Journal of Epidemiology, April 1, 2017;46:612-621).

Hepburn smoked heavily her entire life, which is a major established risk factor for numerous diseases, including colon cancer. Pseudomyxoma peritonei, cancer in question, belongs to the same cancer family as colon cancer.


Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston on May 4, 1929, in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. she was diagnosed with cancer of the appendix in 1992 “The doctors gave her three months to live. She acknowledged being afraid of the pain but not being afraid of dying,” says her longtime partner Robert Wolders.

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