Jobs: Hormone imbalance causing weight loss

Apple CEO says he will remain on the job while being treated for the condition.

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By Aaron Smith, staff writer

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NEW YORK ( -- Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said Monday that doctors may have discovered the cause of the weight loss that has caused speculation about his health, adding that he will continue to serve as the computer maker's chief executive.

In a letter to the "Apple community," Jobs said the cause appears to be "a hormone imbalance that has been 'robbing' me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis."

Jobs released the letter as the Macworld conference for Apple developers was to get underway in San Francisco. No major breakthrough products were expected from the conference, the first that won't be highlighted by Jobs since he returned to power at the company in 1997.

Investors were relieved to hear that Jobs' condition is improving. Shares of Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) rose about 4% in Monday trading, even as the Nasdaq declined.

"It should alleviate an overhang on the stock," said Shannon Cross, technology analyst for Cross Research. "It should provide [investors] with more confidence that Steve Jobs is going to be around for a while."

Apple's decision to have Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, headline the conference had fueled speculation about Jobs' health, as he experienced noticeable weight loss last year. Schiller is scheduled to deliver the keynote address Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, my decision to have Phil deliver the Macworld keynote set off another flurry of rumors about my health, with some even publishing stories of me on my deathbed," Jobs said in the letter.

Jobs also underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer back in 2004, further fueling rumors about his health problems. But Jobs said Monday he would recover and continue to lead Apple.

"The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I've already begun treatment," said Jobs. "But, just like I didn't lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this spring to regain it. I will continue as Apple's CEO during my recovery."

Apple's board of directors released a statement of support for its CEO.

"It is widely recognized both inside and outside of Apple that Steve Jobs is one of the most talented and effective CEOs in the world," read the board's letter. "As we have said before, if there ever comes a day when Steve wants to retire or for other reasons cannot continue to fulfill his duties as Apple's CEO, you will know it."

Despite Jobs' talents and innovation, Daniel Ernst, analyst for Hudson Square Research, said that Apple is well-positioned to prosper without him.

"I think that people don't focus enough on the depth of the [Apple] team," said Ernst. "I think that people overstate that Jobs designs every single product and every single piece of software."

"What [Jobs] has done," he added, "is put the DNA in the company."

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