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Jerry Lewis in rehab over steroids

Jerry Lewis on September 1. The comedian entered a rehabilitation center in mid-October.

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Jerry Lewis
Entertainment (general)

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Comedian Jerry Lewis has been hospitalized for several weeks as he weans himself from a steroid that was prescribed for a chronic lung ailment but led to his gaining 60 pounds, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Lewis has managed to shed 27 pounds since checking himself into the rehabilitation center of an undisclosed Las Vegas hospital in mid-October to undergo a managed withdrawal from prednisone, publicist Candi Cazau told Reuters.

She said Lewis, 77, also has embarked on a "very rigorous exercise routine and a carefully planned diet" and plans to remain in rehab for nearly four more months.

"The prednisone has been cut in half. He's feeling and looking terrific and conducting business as usual," Cazau said, adding that the performer is aiming to be prednisone free and back to his normal weight of 180 pounds by March 4.

"His goal is to leave the hospital in a tuxedo, get into a limousine and drive over to the Orleans Hotel and Casino and do a show," Cazau said. Lewis had been a regular performer at the Orleans showroom before his health worsened 2 1/2 years ago.

Lewis' weight had ballooned to as much as 242 pounds as a side effect from the prednisone, which he began taking in the spring of 2001 for treatment of pulmonary fibrosis, an inflammatory lung disease, Cazau said.

The extra weight left the entertainer visibly bloated in recent public appearances, including his latest stint as host of the annual Labor Day telethon to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. But Cazau said Lewis already was noticeably less puffy than before.

He chose to wean himself off prednisone after the condition of his lungs showed marked improvement, Cazau said. She said that a case of diabetes linked to the prednisone also had abated as he cut back on the drug.

Lewis shot to fame as the partner to singer Dean Martin in a popular comedy act during the 1950s, and went on to star in a string of screwball comedy films, including "The Bellboy," "The Errand Boy" and "The Nutty Professor."

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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