Tom Hanks: Diabetes Is Not Going to Kill Me

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Tom Hanks (Getty Images)

Tom Hanks dropped a bombshell on Monday's "Late Night With David Letterman," announcing to the world that he has diabetes.

The two-time Oscar winner, on to promote his forthcoming film, "Captain Phillips," reported that he had suffered from symptoms of Type 2 diabetes (which occurs when the body does not use insulin properly) for two full decades, but only received his diagnosis very recently.

The topic came up almost by chance, when Letterman host complimented Hanks on his appearance, noting the star seemed a bit trimmer. Hanks said he had a ways to go to meet his doctor's original goal.

"I went to the doctors and they said, 'You know those high blood sugar numbers you've been living with since you were 36? Well, you've graduated. You've got Type 2 diabetes, young man,'" he recounted.

"My doctor said, 'If you can weigh what you weighed in high school, you'll essentially be healthy and not have Type 2 diabetes," Hanks explained before noting that it was an impossible task. "Well, I'm gonna have Type 2 diabetes because there is no way I can weigh as much as I did in high school," he laughed.

When Letterman asked how much the star had weighed back in the day, Hanks didn't miss a beat. "96 pounds," he quipped. "I was a very skinny boy." And how.

Speaking exclusively to Yahoo Movies on Tuesday, Hanks went into more detail about his diagnosis — and his good prognosis.

"Hey, I don't have Type 1 diabetes! Type 1 diabetes is a really, really serious thing. I don't have that. I have high blood sugars and Type 2 diabetes is not going to kill me," explained Hanks. "But I just have to eat right, and exercise, and lose weight, and watch what I eat, and I will be fine for the rest of my life.

"Part of it's hereditary, without a doubt. I guess I just got it in me. But it's really about a lifestyle, man. ...I'm 57 years old and for the last 20 years I've been carrying around probably 15 or 20 extra pounds in my regular life. When I work, a lot of times I have to lose weight and I do that, but in my regular life I was not eating right, and I was not getting enough exercise. But by the nature of my diet and that lifestyle — boom!

"The end result was high blood sugars that reach the levels where it becomes Type 2 diabetes. I share that with a gajillion other people. The best thing you can do that for that and the thing that will completely negate its effects is eat right and lose weight. So that's all I'm doing."

It's a message Hanks has taken to Twitter.

And Hanks urged people who might have symptoms to get checked out, and not be scared of the disease.

"It's not a huge tragedy, but you know there are people out there that are saying, 'Geez, what's wrong with me? I don't understand. I feel like this, I get sluggish, I get down, I'm beginning to lose feeling in my feet.' When it's essentially from high blood sugars and they might be flirting with Type 2 diabetes themselves.

"Yahoo, put this out. Type 2 diabetes is not Type 1 diabetes. That's where you've got to like constantly monitor your insulin and give yourself shots. That's what Al Pacino had in 'Godfather III.' He had Type 1 diabetes."

And how has the reaction to his disclosure been?

"You know I didn't even know that it went out. Oh, I was on 'Letterman' last night. Right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I just said it. So I guess I'm beginning to get some stuff like that. I can say look, I got no problems being the poster boy for a guy with Type 2 diabetes.

"Listen, it's no good to be carrying around that 15 to 25 extra pounds. ... [But] what's more important than losing weight is I'll feel better. And I'll be healthier. I think it's better to feel good than to look good."

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