Wednesday, January 19, 2005

McDonald's ex-CEO dies of colon cancer at age 44


Charlie Bell, who was chief executive officer of McDonald's until November, died Sunday of colon cancer at age 44, according to CNN/Money:
A charismatic leader who said he ate a McDonald's product most days, Bell was diagnosed with colorectal cancer just weeks after being named to the company's top job in April.... The company's first non-American CEO, Bell had succeeded Jim Cantalupo, who died suddenly of a heart attack after a little more than a year on the job at age 60.
Bell had begun working for McDonald's at age 15 in Australia. He had worked closely with Cantalupo, also a 30-year McDonald's veteran, to turn the company's fortunes around in recent years. The executives had introduced innovations such as meal-sized salads.

Bell is survived by his wife and daughter. "McDonald's paid about $300,000 to fly Bell and his family back to Australia in a special medically equipped aircraft," according to CNN/Money.

Compounding the tragedy for McDonald's, Bell's death makes an uncomfortable juxtaposition with heavy news coverage several days earlier of a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, linking colon cancer with meat consumption. The American Cancer Society reported, "People who eat a lot of red meat or processed meats may be raising their risk for colon cancer." According to co-author Michael Thun,"While these risks to overall health are not in the same league as the risk from smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, these findings are important because red and processed meat are major components of the diet of many Americans."

[Update: Bell's age has been corrected from 43 to 44.]

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