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    Type 2 diabetes: Better choices change the odds

    Actor Tom Hanks says his diagnosis of type 2 diabetes was inevitable; doctors disagree

    Many people believe that a diagnosis of pre-diabetes is a one-way ticket to type 2. Drug Topics board member Fred Mayer says it ain’t necessarily so; people have more power over this outcome than they may think. To clear up some common misunderstandings, he has put together some information for you to share with your patients.

    I was watching the Letterman show recently, when actor Tom Hanks revealed that he was diagnosed with diabetes. He joked that his doctor said he had “graduated” from high blood sugar (pre-diabetes) to type 3 diabetes. He also called his diagnosis “inevitable.”

    “Tom Hanks has done people a favor by speaking out about his diabetes diagnosis,” said Dr. Jyoti Bhat, a specialist with Marin Endocrine Center. “It’s one of the most prevalent diseases in the world today, and anything that raises awareness of the causes and consequences of diabetes is a good thing.”

    Dr. Bhat says that while the rise in diabetes is “alarming” — 25 million people in the United States have diabetes, and that number is growing daily — an even bigger concern is that most of them don’t know it.

    “If Mr. Hanks’ revelation encourages more people to be tested or encourages more people to follow their doctors’ recommendations,” Bhat said, “then something important has been accomplished.”

    Not inevitable

    Like Hanks, many people believe that their diabetes is inevitable.

    “For many individuals with pre-diabetes, it’s simply not true that it’s inevitable,” said Bhat. “If the condition is caught early, it is possible to delay or even prevent the onset of diabetes. That’s why it is so important to be screened early.”

    Elevated blood sugar, which Hanks said he had been warned about since he was 34, is one of several conditions that might lead to impaired glucose tolerance, a pre-diabetic state, said Bhat.

    According to Dr. Alan Rubin, UCSF endocrinologist and author of “Pre-Diabetes for Dummies,” a diagnosis of pre-diabetes means that you have 10 to 40 times the average risk of developing diabetes. But you can shift the odds.

     

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