Celebrity Diabetes ~ Tom Hanks now

Before Paula Deen got in hot water over racial issues, she was the subject of controversy a few years back with her belated disclosure that she had Type 2 diabetes, and then became a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk's Victoza.  The "mainstream" balked, including rebukes from fellow celebrity chefs for using so much butter in her cooking while hiding the effect it had on her health.  When the news hit the LC community, it of course went nuts.  I discussed this pretty thoroughly HERE.  A quick summary might be that the low carbers didn't like that people blamed the fat in her foods and finger pointed at the carbs (ignoring sedentary lifestyle entirely).  Further, they didn't like that she was dieting per mainstream guidelines and using Victoza rather going on a LC diet.   Stress certainly has taken a toll on Deen, but she seems to have maintained her weight loss, perhaps even losing a few more pounds.  It would be interesting to get an update on her condition, but somehow I doubt we will.

Now Tom Hanks has revealed on the Letterman program that, at age 57, he has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  Watch for yourselves:

The low carbers seized on two things -- 1. the diabetes (must be the evil carbs!) , and 2. the doctor telling Hanks that if he could weigh what he did in high school he could probably get rid of his diabetes.  Here's DietDoc Andreas Eenfeldt

Hanks did a bit of joking around in that interview -- it was Letterman after all!  Seems to me a lot of people took the high school comment a bit too seriously.  Hanks is listed as 6 feet tall on celeb sites and I remember the scene below left from Bosom Buddies in the montage I made here.

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Now it's hard to tell from the yearbook photo head shot in the middle, but I think it's safe to say that he wasn't emaciated at the time.  I cannot think of a single male in my high school that would have weighed under 100 lbs though perhaps a few females did.  Interestingly enough Hanks has weighed less than what he did in his mid 20's as demonstrated by the pic from Castaway on the right.   He's thin, but I wouldn't call him emaciated there, would you?   I got that weight from this article.  Seems they changed the title in print, but the URL still asks "Did fluctuating weight play a role?"  That's Hanks from the beginning of Castaway here at right (225 lbs).

Hanks said: "Gaining and losing of weight may have had something to do with this because you eat so much bad food and you don't get any exercise when you're heavy.
In another report:
Hanks' history of losing and gaining weight for roles may have contributed to his diagnosis, according to CBS medical contributor Holly Phillips.

"In dramatic weight gain or dramatic weight loss, the equilibrium of the body is just completely off, so that might predispose him to developing Type 2 diabetes later," the doctor said.
He famously lost weight the first time to play an AIDS victim in Philadelphia, and I never knew this before now, but he apparently gained 30 lbs to play the lead in A League of Their Own.  Did this weight cycling play a role?  Perhaps.  Hanks also mentions he thinks he's genetically predisposed, so there may be a family history here.   It's hard to believe his weight was changed that much over the years, at least 50 lbs perhaps 70?!!  Maybe it's the forced changes that contributed, or the foods he used to gain weight?   Sure the celebs chow down the carbs to gain weight for roles, but they sure as heck aren't chowing down on boiled potatoes and pasta primavera.
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In a later interview with BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz, Hanks said: "I always joke: you've got to maintain the temple. I get regular exercise and I eat right - which everybody should do - and I take certain meds."
He said pizza was a key ingredient when he bulked up for roles. "Pizza is the most delightful thing ever invented and it's - for me - diabolically dangerous."
Ahhh yes, pizza.  Just look at all those carbs there!  Nary a gram of fat in sight ;-)

But speaking of weight and diabetes, Hanks did describe himself as very skinny growing up.  He could perhaps have been underweight in childhood, and there is a ton of evidence out there supporting that this increases risk for diabetes in adulthood.  It may be quite complex, or it may well be as simple as not developing the proper non-visceral fat depots in which to store excesses safely.  For some, even modest excesses can be metabolically dangerous, while others can carry large excesses without doing metabolic harm.  The answer may lie in Hanks' childhood, or maybe in his manipulations of weight for roles he has played.  We don't know, though he might.

Having just watched The Hunt for Red October the other day, I think it's safe to say that unlike Alec Baldwin and many of the other actors I've grown up and older  watching, Tom Hanks may have gained and lost weight but hasn't changed much in the underlying physique department.  If I ever weighed what I did in HS I'd be on my death bed, but that doesn't mean the doctor's comment was hair-brained in spirit. Tom Hanks, on the other hand, at age 44 was leaner than at age 25, so it's conceivable. Whether or not he wants to pursue that or not is his business, and I seem to recall his diet to get there being quite austere. On the other hand, it is doubtful he'd need to go that far. 

But the low carbers see diabetes as a matter of carbohydrate in the diet. The worst response was from someone I became aware of from her FB postings people alert me to: Christine Cronau who has a degree in English Lit and Math and is "...now completing further studies in nutritional medicine. She has a passion for analysing and interpreting the latest nutrition research, and working as a natural health advocate to ensure that this research is available to the general public."   I wonder where she's learning this or what nutrition research she is reading, but it sure as heck isn't the scientific studies in the quality peer review journals I'm reading.  In response to Hanks' announcement, she wrote about what a shame it was to "witness poor medical advice" ... and then proceeds to give what she considers the correct interpretation:

Can we add up all the WRONG "facts" here?
  • Insulin does not transport glucose
  • Extra glucose is not stored en masse in fat tissue
  • Fat stores for rainy days comes mostly from dietary fat, not carbs
  • Carbs drives insulin drives fat (via carbs converted to fat).  Wrong.
  • The pancreas does not get tired of producing insulin 
  • Eating a lot of carbs is not an unnatural process and indeed seems to be the norm in most traditional human cultures for millenia.
  • Glucose can get into our cells without insulin
  • If what she says about brain cells being glucose starved in diabetes and dying were true, untreated diabetics would die from this before ketoacidosis and we'd never even be talking Alzheimer's.
I have one point in agreement, that the "lifestyle forms" of diabetes are completely preventable.  However does the media or mainstream medicine tell us otherwise?  No!  They tell us exactly that!!  Dr. William "Wheat Belly" Davis wrote a letter to Tom Hanks.  In that he writes:

Got that?  If Tom Hanks decides to have diabetes, that's his choice, but if he listens to Davis he can choose not to.  Davis then proceeds to blame it on grains.  Nevermind that there are no ... and I do mean NO ... studies that have correlated whole grain consumption, or even some refined grain consumption (talking white rice not yellow cakes) with diabetes or insulin resistance.  None.   Studies like this one even suggest otherwise.  His whole schtick here rests on the glycemic index and while there is some usefulness in considering GI for diabetics, the scenarios of the next paragraph are pure science fiction.  I see his postprandial blood sugars are on the rise again!  It used to be that a bowl of oatmeal would kill you by spiking your BG into the 150's then 170's ... now it's up to 300.  Sure, in an untreated diabetic because they have a dysfunctional pancreas!!!!   The next part, however -- that these spikes kill off the pancreas?   While glucotoxicity is real, the literature studying this bears little resemblance to Davis' presentation here.  

So these low carb advocates, and others, react in typical reductionist reactionary form.  They presume Hanks eats a ton of carbs, and it's that component of his diet that "pooped out" his pancreas and is causing his diabetes.    This is not how it happens.  Yet to a one they talk about "fixing" this and "reversing" this with a simple regime of LCHF.   I am still trying to tie together thoughts in my follow up to my recent post on The Cause of Hyperglycemia in Type 2 Diabetes, but it becomes more and more clear each day just how misguided these so-called "experts" are regarding the disease.   Carbs are not something that build up in you like a toxin, as Cronau implies.  Eliminating them from your diet won't fix hyperglycemia that is caused by your own body's overproduction of glucose.  To claim that diabetes is "opted out of" or "fixed" by eliminating dietary carb is just wrong -- especially when these people cannot ever eat carbohydrates without skyrocketing blood sugars.  They ignore all of the metabolic issues that lead up to the final manifestation, and "treat" the endgame symptom.   

Folks like Eenfeldt and Attia are muddying the waters again with this nonsense that obesity is just a symptom or reaction to IR/diabetes and not the other way around in the roughly 80% of T2's that are obese.  This is to absolve them of feeling guilty so they don't blame you for your disease, but oh the condescension and blame Andreas will heap upon you if you dare think you have the *right* or *need* to ever let starch or sugar, even in real whole foods, pass through your lips.   The LC-unmedical community looks sneeringly down their collective noses at any that dare consume carbohydrates with the assistance of insulin or other diabetes medications.  You must simply be unwilling or unable to resign yourself to the restrictive life of LCHF, even when there's no indication that doing so improves mortality rates.   The comments sections have pointed out that Hanks is using medications to control his diabetes.  Yet as he patted is midriff he emphasized how he cares for his temple.  This, apparently is not enough for people because now he, like Paula Deen, is setting some sort of bad example for the public by following the wrong advice in caring for his health.   You see, they are *doing it wrong* listening to all the bad conventional medical authorities out there.    Better to listen to uneducated and misinformed hacks (sorry no other word for her) like Christine Cronau, I suppose.

But whenever the discussion turns to reversing diabetes, the examples of true reversal -- as in being able to consume carbohydrates with an appropriate metabolic response -- go ignored or are dismissed.  That crash diet has now been given a name -- The Newcastle Diet.  It seems to me that Tom Hanks is a likely candidate to try this.  But wait!  He's not obese!  Ahh, yes.  But neither was Richard Doughty or Allan Tutty.  Who?   Well Doughty's name may be familiar to some as he wrote this article for the Daily Mail:  I reversed my diabetes in just 11 days - by going on a starvation diet.  Yeah, the diet is pretty low calorie and "crashy" ... but I think dropping the starvation term will be a good idea moving forward.    Doughty, was not even overweight at 5'7" and 147 lbs.  In 11 days his blood glucose levels were in normal ranges and he states in the article that he keeps his weight just under 9 stone or 126 lbs.   This appears to be sustainable for Doughty and I must emphasize:  the Newcastle Diet is a temporary intervention.

Flashback to Newcastle, blogged on here:   It was a small study in only 11 people bit they all had their diabetes reversed in short order with a 600 cal/day diet -- essentially a protein sparing modified fast (PSMF) with low cal veggies.  Even this diet contained more carbs than those who are managing their diabetic hyperglycemia with VLC starch and sugar free diets.  It contained roughly 60g/day of sugars.  The followed up for 3 months (formally) and 7 of the 11 remained diabetes free despite the group regaining on average almost 7 lbs after returning to a "normal diet".  In the media reports, one subject interviewed remained diabetes free for a year and a half, and he had been on meds for his diabetes for 6 years!!  

The weight loss itself is not necessarily all that drastic.  Later in the Mail article, we meet Alan Tutty, one of 34 volunteers in the latest Newcastle study.  According to the article written this past August, Tutty followed the diet for 8 weeks from Nov 2012 to Jan 2013 and lost 26 lbs (from 211 to 185 lbs).  He has reversed his diabetes and remained diabetes free despite, as he is directly quoted in the article saying, his weight rising to about 191 lbs on occasion and drifting down to a maintenance around 187 lbs in the interim.

So ... now here's the question.
Why are many in the medical community so excited by this, but the low carb physicians so dismissive of curing diabetes?  
Could it be that it is THEY that aren't really interested in you curing your diabetes?  That they are not interested in you doing so by some non-pharmaceutical means that doesn't involve lining their pockets?   A cynic might suspect so.    

.... back to Mr. Hanks ...

Now, I'm glad I cited this version of the Doughty's story, because as some have noted, Tom Hanks is not exactly your typical obese T2 diabetic.  Then again, neither was Doughty, but I think Tutty seems a better role model of sorts for Hanks.  I don't know Tutty's height, but we are talking weights that Hanks has achieved and been considerably below during his "fully adult" life ... so the end game here is not emaciation.  Further Doughty had lost some weight in the year prior to hearing about and trying the Newcastle Diet ... to no avail.  So perhaps it is the weight to some degree but there has to be something more to it.  Putting this together with the rapid reversals we see in GBP surgery, or that it has been known for some time that fasting can restore glucose homeostasis in T2's within a week's time, it seems that a drastic caloric deficit is a prime candidate for "that something".  That this lasts even when calories are increased and even some weight is gained seems to point to a "last admitted, first released" phenomenon for ectopic (particularly hepatic and pancreatic) fat.   Further, it seems to take time for the ectopic fat to accumulate, but it can be rapidly depleted -- what I've been calling "draining the swamp" -- with the depletion being more pronounced by drastic caloric deficit.

So to be bold, I would suggest the following to Mr. Hanks.  Have your assistant access, print and forward the following articles to your doctor:  Type 2 Diabetes Etiology and reversibility, and Reversal of type 2 diabetes: normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglycerol.  I only suggest this because he and his doctor may not even be aware of this option.  In preparation for a real life role of being non-diabetic, perhaps give it a try?  Go to a fancy resort or somewhere to make the time go by more easily.

If I were someone of Hanks' means, I wouldn't just wonder if it were genetic ... since he has been mostly a normal weight and apparently known to have glucose issues since his mid 30's ... I'd get genetically tested to rule out, or confirm, MODY first.  But otherwise he really has nothing to lose and it's not like such an undertaking would be so out of the ordinary for him.  If I had a shot at curing my diabetes, I'd take it.  The same would go for early insulin therapy if dieting is not an option or amenable.

But in the end, this is Tom Hanks, his body, his life.  Yes he is a celebrity and lives out loud in the public arena.  But that doesn't make him fair game for everyone to cast aspersions, pass judgment and tell him what to eat.  And that includes me.  And that includes these low carb blowhards that think their old dogma is some new magic trick.  It. is. not.  Especially since he is not one of those celebs that lectures the public with his dietary views (and you'll notice he didn't even now either).  If he tried Newcastle and it didn't work, and it's not genetic, and he has to take anything more than metformin, I'd even suggest considering a course of insulin treatment and that he have his assistant add this article to the aforementioned list:  Early Insulin Treatment in Type 2 Diabetes. What are the pros?  But in the end, this is between him and his doctor.

In closing ...

I wish Mr. Hanks well, and now I shall apologize in advance for posting so many half naked pictures of him on my blog.  But I just can't be having an article discussing Tom Hanks through the ages w/o him in his funderwear.  Below is a montage, that I didn't put together for a change, from a film I really enjoyed!  Big.  Great movie.  Great actor.   Thanks for so many great movies and here's looking at many more!

31 years old here FWIW, 1988, link


charles grashow said…

"I don’t believe in ‘genetic’ high cholesterol"

"if our cholesterol is high, it is probably trying to heal something, so it is counterproductive to lower it"

Another very dangerous individual
George said…
The context implies that he was doing this before the diagnosis. It is very likely that he did take some medication before, as a "health aware' individual with the best doctors money can buy.
Paleo Nouveau said…
I would argue that Mr. Hanks is exposed to too many unhealthy "gourmet" offerings due to his star status. His face shows that he is overweight. Exercise? Doubt it. Proper exercise leaves "footprints." He does not exhibit any. IMHO he is a victim of over consumption of bad fats and sugary starchy highly processed and junk foodstuffs that are incredibly delicious but equally harmful!!!
John Smith said…
He has been maintaining a strict diet of AWESOME!
carbsane said…
Are you saying that MY context implied that Hanks was taking unnecessary meds before his diagnosis? If so, please quote the passage.

If not, I am not getting what you are after here. From the few direct quotes I've seen or heard from him, he is managing his condition with the use of some medication, and he has used the plural so I'd say more than one.
carbsane said…
I don't really think that is fair. His face? Some put more of their fat in their faces than others and I don't think that is necessarily a function of diet or activity.
Sanjeev Sharma said…
"he chose diabetes" ... oy vey

the "it's not YOUR fault, it's the carbs" crowd's true colors show up
lucyricardanon said…
His face? Dude, he's 57. Jowls in someone who's damn near 60 years old are not necessarily indicative of excess bodyfat.
lucyricardanon said…
I'm not seeing that at all. It seems to me that he's implying that he's taking medication for the diabetes. But even if he was taking some medication before the diabetes diagnosis, he implies that he was diagnosed with glucose intolerance 20 years ago.
George said…
Tom Hanks has never seemed the type to follow fad diets, nor to be inactive, nor to rely on fast food. He seems the careful type. Exactly the sort to follow the USDA recommendations and take the standard prophylactic medications and supplements prescribed by his doctor.
Yet his condition got worse; and that is why he is left trying to explain it with his slight role-related shifts in body composition and weight.
carbsane said…
Now you are just making sheet up and guessing.
carbsane said…
Another thing I've noticed is that if someone eats a "conventionally healthy" diet yet develops glucose intolerance/diabetes, this shows the dietary recs wrong. If someone follows a low carb diet for a decade or more and they develop glucose intolerance/diabetes, this shows that they irreparably damaged themselves at age 12 and the diet is in no way implicated in their current metabolic state.
carbsane said…
Oh that is so cool!

I wonder if I'll still be blogging in 2018 ;-)
Sanjeev Sharma said…
plus battery acid
Mark said…
If he has had glucose issues since his thirties then it seems quite logical that he would most likely have a predisposition to diabetes. Thin people with T2DM who have a family history of DM is not at all uncommon.
eulerandothers said…
carbsane said…
I agree, which is why I'd get tested for the MODY if I were of his means. Like all of us, we could complicate that with excess weight especially visceral fat but there are different treatment protocols.
Kevin Anderson said…
I thought that once the liver is full of glycogen, it starts turning the glucose it absorbs from the blood into fatty acids. Can someone clarify what actually happens?
carbsane said…
Hi Kevin, Yes, it does. BUT, context is everything. This pathway is not quantitatively significant. I think the graphic (click to enlarge and zoom in if necessary) written by Marc Hellerstein in Insel, Turner & Ross' Nutrition is a good summary. It takes significant (and persistent) overfeeding to upregulate this process and it is still not a high percent or a lot of grams.
Kevin Anderson said…
hey nice post meh, You are ne of the best writers I've seen of recent. I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: Realistic Approach To Achieve Goals .
keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.

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