Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks (credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorTom Hanks is sort of like the Mount Rushmore of actors — big, strong, and indestructible.

But it turns out Tom has much more mere mortal to him than we fans would like to believe.

Hanks announced on Letterman that he had Type II Diabetes. In this day and age, hearing someone has diabetes is like hearing the sun rises in the east.

But Tom Hanks? He’s a superstar! Invincible!

Well, he’s not getting any younger (age 57), he has a family history of the disease, and has a personal history of being overweight, as well as having weight fluctuations that have stressed his scale, as well as his internal hormones.

MORE FROM CBSLOSANGELES.COM: Actor Tom Hanks Joins Growing Number Of Americans Battling Diabetes

Back when I first started practice, Type II was relatively uncommon. Now it makes up 94 percent of all cases of diabetes and — generally — it’s due to carrying too much weight. Your body can’t handle it, and your ability to produce insulin that works well goes down the tanker. The more rare Type I diabetes is the type where you completely stop making insulin, and you need insulin shots the rest of your life. That type can occur no matter your weight, and generally shows up in childhood.

RELATED: Diabetes Prevention Program

Symptoms of Type II include thirst, increased urination, and increased appetite. But the most common symptom is that you just feel lousy.

About one in 10 Americans have Type II — many more don’t know it, so the rate is probably higher. Worse is that one in three Americans have something called pre-diabetes — meaning you are just a couple of points on a blood test away from having full blown diabetes.

Simply put, diabetes sucks. It kills your heart, eyes, kidneys, and any other body organ you want to name.

It’s controlled by losing weight, eating better and then you go on to pills if that doesn’t bring your numbers down. And if that doesn’t work we add insulin shots.

Even though the people most at risk are overweight, over 45, have a family history or are Hispanic or African American it’s my belief that everyone is at risk. That’s why I recommend routine blood tests to look for a rise in blood sugar.

You can do this with a simple fasting blood test at your doctor’s, or if non-fasting, have what’s called a Hemoglobin A1C, which gives a snapshot of your blood sugar average for the past three months.

Good luck — and don’t let diabetes creep up on you. Tom Hanks will tell you that’s just what happened to him.

For more info, here’s good resource:


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