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Actor Tom Hanks Says He Has Type 2 Diabetes

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Actor Tom Hanks made a surprise announcement on David Letterman about his health. He revealed he is now living with Type 2 diabetes.

Mary Bubala reports local health professionals hope his diagnosis is a wake-up call for millions.

When Tom Hanks joined David Letterman on stage, he began the conversation with an unexpected announcement.

“I went to the doctor and they 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.

The 57-year-old actor is known for taking on roles that require him to gain and lose a lot of weight.

Sinai Hospital’s Dr. Asha Thomas says those extreme weight fluctuations could play a role in Hank’s diagnosis.

“Clearly gaining and losing weight for these roles is altering your metabolism and then as we are getting older, that metabolism is slowing down as well, as probably a multi-pronged effect,” she said.

More than 20 million adults in this country have Type 2 diabetes, including Glenda Ford, who was diagnosed two years ago. She now sees a nutritionist, takes classes and talks with other patients at the Diabetes Resource Center in Sinai. Like Hanks, Ford says people are surprised by her diagnosis because she looks healthy.

“A lot of people tell me that all the time, `You don’t look like you have diabetes.’ But I have it and I have to wake up every single morning and remember that I am a diabetic,” she said. “I have to take my sugar every morning to see if it’s OK. I have to be very careful about what I eat. Diabetes is nothing to take lightly. It’s nothing to play with because the complications can come out of nowhere.”

Complications include heart disease, nerve, eye and foot damage and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. It is a controllable condition through diet, exercise, insulin and medication.

Hanks says he has changed his diet and is exercising more to control his diabetes.

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