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by Abigail Van Buren

Diabetes Alert Day Forewarns Public of Silent Killer's Risks

DEAR ABBY: Some risks are worth taking. Ignoring signs of diabetes isn't one of them. Several years ago, you played a critical role on American Diabetes Alert Day by informing your readers about the importance of type 2 diabetes prevention and detection.

Diabetes is a "silent" killer that slowly takes away people's health, their money, their time and their dreams. It's called a silent killer because people can have it for years and not know it. This disease affects many of your readers -- nearly 24 million children and adults in the U.S. are diabetic, and another 57 million Americans have pre-diabetes. (Their blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with the disease.)

Diabetes affects more than just the person who has it -- it also affects the parent who is caring for a diabetic child, the spouse who plays the role of caretaker, and the adult whose parent is struggling with this illness. Unfortunately, the number of people developing diabetes continues to grow at an alarming rate.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009, is the 21st annual American Diabetes Alert Day -- a one-day call to action, encouraging all Americans to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, there is a great deal your readers can do once they know their risk.

With your help, Abby, we can motivate millions to start taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and their families from this life-threatening disease. Thanks for lending a hand. -- R. PAUL ROBERTSON, M.D., PRESIDENT, AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION

DEAR DR. ROBERTSON: I'm pleased to help because once diagnosed, type 2 diabetes is an illness that can be successfully managed. However, if it is ignored, it can eventually destroy the organs of the body.

Readers, please help yourselves and your families by taking the diabetes risk test at � HYPERLINK "http://www.diabetes.org/alert or by calling 1-800-342-2382" ��www.diabetes.org/alert or by calling (800) 342-238�3 tomorrow. Don't put it off -- I care about you.