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Tom Hanks Has Type 2 Diabetes

He'd been dealing with elevated blood sugar levels for more than 20 years

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Margaret Farley Steele and Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporters

TUESDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Tom Hanks, the Academy Award-winning actor, revealed Monday night that he has joined millions of Americans in a new role -- that of type 2 diabetic.

Hanks, 57, was discussing his latest film on CBS' "The Late Show With David Letterman" when he made the announcement.

"I went to the doctor and he said, 'You know those high blood sugar numbers you've been dealing with since you were 36? Well, you've graduated. You've got type 2 diabetes, young man,'" Hanks said.

Over the years, the actor's weight has bounced up and down like Hollywood box-office ratings. And Dr. Holly Phillips, a CBS medical contributor, said his extreme weight fluctuations may have contributed to the diagnosis. As a baseball coach in "A League of Their Own" (1992), Hanks added 30 pounds. For the starring role in "Cast Away" in 2000, he reportedly shed 55 pounds to play a man fending for himself on a deserted island after a plane crash, CBS News reported.

Like Hanks, millions of Americans develop type 2 diabetes gradually. The American Diabetes Association reports that 25.8 million children and adults in the United States -- or about 8 percent of the population -- have diabetes, and the overwhelming majority has type 2 disease. However, fewer than 19 million actually have a diagnosis.

Another 79 million Americans have prediabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels are elevated.

People with type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar levels because they are unable to properly utilize insulin, a hormone needed to convert food into energy. Being overweight and sedentary are associated with development of type 2 diabetes.

Many people with type 2 diabetes can control the condition through diet and exercise, but Hanks told Letterman he wasn't counting on weight loss as a solution.

"My doctor said 'If you can weigh as much as you weighed in high school you will essentially be completely healthy and will not have type 2 diabetes,'" said Hanks. "And I said, 'Well, I'm gonna have type 2 diabetes cause there is no way I can weigh as much as I did in high school.'"

Hanks said he weighed 96 pounds in high school.

Virginia Peragallo-Dittko is executive director of the Diabetes and Obesity Institute at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. She said: "We know Hanks has a 20-year history of prediabetes.

"He had a chance for 20 years to prevent making the transition to diabetes," Peragallo-Dittko added. "There is something you can do and the something is to lose 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and increasing your physical activity to 150 minutes a week."

Peragallo-Dittko said it's weight, not weight fluctuation, that results in diabetes.

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