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DEAR ABBY: In America today, there are 20.8 million people living with diabetes. Because there are often no symptoms, nearly one-third of them -- 6.2 million of those people -- don't even know they have diabetes and won't find out until one of its devastating complications develops. An additional 41 million people are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

The good news is that diabetes and its complications can be prevented or delayed, but awareness is vital.

Left untreated, the complications of diabetes include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation. But they are not inevitable. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to preventing or delaying these complications.

Please help us to spread the word to the millions of Americans who are living with this disease and don't know it, or who are at risk. Thanks for sharing this information with your readers, Abby. It can help to improve the lives of millions of Americans who might already have diabetes and not know it, and prevent the disease in millions more. -- ROBERT A. RIZZA, M.D., AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION

DEAR DR. RIZZA: I'm pleased to pass the word along. I had a conversation recently with David Boyer, M.D., a respected retinal specialist here in Los Angeles, in which he confided that one of the most difficult things he has to do in his practice is to inform a patient that his or her eyesight cannot be restored, and that the cause was previously undiagnosed diabetes.

Today, March 28, is the American Diabetes Association's 18th Annual Diabetes Alert Day. Readers, go to � HYPERLINK "" ��� to take the ADA's online assessment, or call toll-free (800) 342-2383 for more information. Do it for yourselves, for your family and for me.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a junior in high school, starting to seriously consider and contrast colleges. I live in a Chicago suburb and I love city life.

The University of Illinois at Chicago seems like a reasonable option for me. However, I have fallen in love with the University of Tampa in Florida.

There are so many factors to consider that I feel like crying when thinking about choosing between these schools. I enjoy trying new things, and I think I'd like Tampa. My family doesn't have a lot of money, so visits home would be limited to Christmas and possibly spring break. At UIC I would only have a 20-minute train ride to get home. I could do that every day if I wanted to.

My mom worries that I'll get homesick, and so do I. Is it better to stay with the comfortable, or try to expand my horizons -- even if there's a possibility I might hate it? Please give me your opinion. -- NICKY IN ITASCA, ILL.

DEAR NICKY: If your only reason for staying home is the fear that you "might" be homesick, then I think you should gather up your courage and leap from the nest. That's how fledglings learn to fly. It takes courage to leave the familiar and strike out on your own, but it's a great part of growing up.

However, there may be more things to take into consideration than you mentioned in your letter. Do you have the grades to get into both of these schools? And can the finances be managed? These should also be factors in your decision.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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