SEATTLE - Apple Inc. co-founder and Chief Executive Steve Jobs said yesterday that he is taking a medical leave until the end of June - a week after the cancer survivor tried to assure investors and employees that his recent weight loss was caused by an easily treatable hormone deficiency.
Jobs, 53, said in a letter last week that he would remain at Apple's helm despite the hormone problem and that he had begun a "relatively simple and straightforward" treatment. But in an e-mail to employees yesterday, Jobs backtracked.
"During the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought," he wrote. "In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health ... I have decided to take a medical leave of absence."
Jobs, who co-founded Apple in 1976, returned as CEO in 1997 and transformed the money-losing maker of Macintosh computers. His focus on design and simple-to-use gadgets won over millions, turning Apple's iPod media player and iPhone into best-sellers. Jobs, who had surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004, appeared thinner at Apple events last year.
Apple's chief operating officer, Tim Cook, will take over Jobs' responsibilities while he is on leave, though Jobs said he plans to remain involved.
Apple's shares slid $6.19, or 7.3 percent, to $79.14 in after-hours trading.
Bloomberg News and the Associated Press contributed to this article.