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Larenz Tate on Sickle Cell Disease

The actor wants people to know how serious the disease is and why it's important to get screened.
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

September is Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month, and for actor Larenz Tate, that means spreading the word about a chronic disease that disproportionately affects the African-American community.

"It's really important to know if you carry the disease," says Tate, 36, who recently costarred on FX's Rescue Me and in BET's made-for-TV movie Gun Hill, which premieres this fall.

Recommended Related to Leukemia & Lymphoma

Types of Blood Disorders

Blood disorders can affect any of the three main components of blood: Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body's tissues White blood cells, which fight infections Platelets, which help blood to clot Blood disorders can also affect the liquid portion of blood, called plasma. Treatments and prognosis for blood diseases vary, depending on the blood condition and its severity.

Read the Types of Blood Disorders article > >

As many as 100,000 people in the United States have the disease, which causes red blood cells to resemble sickles or crescents. The misshapen cells can reduce blood flow, which starves vital organs of oxygen and can lead to chronic fatigue and intense pain.

Many people who don't have the disease carry a gene for it. Screening is essential, a message Tate will spread this month via Facebook and Twitter (@LarenzTate). "If you can prevent the disease, you can really make a difference in someone's life," says Tate.

Find more articles, browse back issues, and read the current issue of "WebMD the Magazine."

Reviewed on July 15, 2012

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