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Minnesota's Gena Lee Nolin reveals misunderstood disease

Posted by: Neal Justin under Behind the scenes, Television Updated: May 16, 2012 - 10:29 AM

Duluth native Gena Lee Nolin, who made a name for herself by running down the beach on "Baywatch" and swinging through the jungle on "Sheena," told FoxNews.com recently that for the past decade, she's been struggling with Hashimoto's disease, which attacks the thyroid and can lead to weight issues.

Nolin, 40, told the site she started to notice problems while filming "Sheena" in the early 2000s.

"There was definitely idle chit chat on the set that maybe I should work out more or eat less, but nothing made a difference," she said.

Doctors finally diagnosed Nolin seven months ago and she has become a spokesperson for medical groups trying to shed light on the disease.

I spent time with Nolin at her then home in the Hollywood Hills back in 1997 and, strangely enough, even then she was becoming more obsessed with her weight.

"If you're not fit as an absolute fiddle, they will take a picture of you and plaster it everywhere," said Nolin, who was six months pregnant at the time.

Nolin has had two more children since then. According to imdb.com, she hasn't appeared in a movie or TV show since 2003.

Nolin told FoxNews.com that she is on the road to recovery and is seeing improvements since following a gluten-free diet.

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