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Diabetes Health Center

Tom Hanks Has Type 2 Diabetes

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

There's also a genetic component to type 2 diabetes, she said. "You can choose your friends, but not your family. You're stuck with the genetic component. But your lifestyle is modifiable. A modest weight loss has a tremendous impact on preventing diabetes -- 5 to 7 percent is reasonable and has a big payoff," she added.

Diabetes medication, which can include pills and/or insulin injections, is prescribed for those who cannot control their blood sugar levels. It is not known what Hanks' doctor is recommending.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious complications such as heart and kidney disease, and amputation.

Dr. Jacob Warman, chief of endocrinology at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City, said: "Diabetes is a long-term disease that can be managed though diet, exercise and medication. Because people often fail at diet and exercise requirements, we also put patients on medication right away. People with diabetes must stay away from simple sugars and eat complex carbohydrates. New medications, such as Metformin, have also shown to be effective in preventing complications and the need to go on insulin."

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