Eddie Van Halen, the founder of the group Van Halen, passed away on October 6, 2020 according to TMZ. Van Halen had been battling throat cancer and died at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. He was 65-years-old.
His health had began to worsen within the past three days, TMZ noted. The throat cancer had metastasized to his brain and other parts of his body. For five years, he had been traveling between the United States and Germany to receive radiation treatment, TMZ reported last year. In 2002, he was determined to be cancer-free, according to SurvivorNet.
Van Halen Revealed His Cancer Diagnosis in 2001
Van Halen revealed that he was receiving treatment for throat cancer in 2001 on his band’s website, Billboard reported.
“I’m sorry for having waited so long to address this issue personally,” read the statement. “But, cancer can be a very unique and private matter to deal with. So, I think it’s about time to tell you where I’m at.”
In the statement, he revealed that he was healthy and expected to be beat the deadly disease.
“I was examined by three oncologists and three head & neck surgeons at Cedars Sinai [Medical Center in Los Angeles] just before spring break and I was told that I’m healthier than ever and beating cancer. Although it’s hard to say when, there’s a good chance I will be cancer free in the near future. I just want to thank all of you for your concern and support.”
Van Halen had began receiving preventive treatment at a hospital in Houston, Texas in May 1999, Billboard said. In 2000, he was diagnosed with mouth cancer, Insider reported, and had one-third of his tongue removed during cancer treatment, according to TMZ.
Van Halen Thought His Cancer Was Caused by Metal Guitar Picks
Even though Van Halen was described as a heavy smoker, he didn’t believe that that was the cause of his cancer diagnosis. He believed that he had cancer because of metal guitar picks he would always hold in his mouth.
“I used metal picks — they’re brass and copper — which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer,” he told Billboard in 2015. “Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that’s filled with electromagnetic energy. So that’s one theory. I mean, I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. But at the same time, my lungs are totally clear. This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it’s possible.”
Insider investigated this theory and Dr. Tom Micklewright shot down any correlation between throat cancer and metal guitar picks. He said that the throat cancer diagnosis was most likely linked to Van Halen’s smoking.
“Copper coils have been used as contraception in the human body for many years without evidence in increased cancer risk,” Dr. Micklewright said. “In contrast, numerous chemicals contained within cigarettes have been conclusively proven to significantly increase cancer risk, and the more likely cause of his throat cancer.”