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Steve Jobs says hormone imbalance causing his weight loss*

January 5, 2009 |  7:03 am

Steve Jobs in January 2008
Apple CEO Steve Jobs, one of the nation's most intensely private corporate leaders, today broke his public silence about the health issue that has been causing him to lose weight. He said his doctors believe a hormone imbalance has been "robbing" him of proteins and that the "nutritional problem" was treatable.

In a letter addressed to "the Apple community" and released this morning, Jobs didn't say exactly what was causing that hormone imbalance or what he and his doctors were doing to reverse his weight loss. But he said he would continue to run Apple in the meantime.

"I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple's CEO," Jobs wrote. "I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first."

The Cupertino, Calif., company said in a separate statement that it would give Jobs its "complete and unwavering support during his recuperation." The board has supported him through health troubles in the past: It kept secret his bout with a rare form of pancreatic cancer until he announced in 2004 that he had fended off the disease.

With today's letter, Jobs finally addressed the obvious weight loss that has caused so much concern among Apple fans and investors since he appeared thinner than usual at the unveiling of the iPhone 3G in June. Then last month, the company said that Jobs would not give the keynote speech at this year's Macworld, which starts tomorrow, for the first time since he rejoined Apple in 1997. Many feared the worst: that Jobs, the consummate showman, was too ill to show off the company's new products. (The official explanation: Apple is pulling out of the trade show after this one, so having Jobs participate in the last Macworld "doesn't make sense.")

"Unfortunately, my decision to have [Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing] deliver the Macworld keynote set off another flurry of rumors about my health, with some even publishing stories of me on my deathbed," Jobs wrote in today's letter. "I've decided to share something very personal with the Apple community so that we can all relax and enjoy the show tomorrow."

Apple's shares are trading up more than 3% this morning, around $94.

After the jump: The full text of the letters from Jobs and Apple. Check back for reaction to the news.

-- Chris Gaither

Top photo: Steve Jobs in January 2008. Credit: David Paul Morris / Getty Images

Bottom photo: Jobs eight months later, in September 2008. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

*A previous version of this post said that people began to worry about Jobs after he appeared gaunt at the Macworld conference in January 2008. In fact, it was his appearance at the unveiling of the iPhone 3G in June that sparked concern.

Steve Jobs in September 2008 Statement from Apple's board of directors:

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.

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.

Apple is very lucky to have Steve as its leader and CEO, and he deserves our complete and unwavering support during his recuperation. He most certainly has that from Apple and its Board.

Letter from Steve Jobs:

Dear Apple Community,

For the first time in a decade, I’m getting to spend the holiday season with my family, rather than intensely preparing for a Macworld keynote.

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.

I’ve decided to share something very personal with the Apple community so that we can all relax and enjoy the show tomorrow.

As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors. A few weeks ago, I decided that getting to the root cause of this and reversing it needed to become my #1 priority.

Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause—a hormone imbalance that has been “robbing” me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.

The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I’ve already begun treatment. 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.

I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple’s CEO. I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first.

So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.

Steve

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