Maintenance Musts continued...
Because Sarandon has a family history of high cholesterol and stroke, she took a cholesterol-lowering medication for two years. "I recently went off [of it] and am trying to use psyllium and other colon cleansers to bring [my cholesterol] down naturally." Psyllium, a soluble fiber used in laxatives, has been shown to help lower cholesterol moderately. However, colon cleansing is considered by most doctors as an alternative approach not yet supported by scientific study.
While she has not yet had a cholesterol test to see if her new regimen is working, it's her top priority after her current film project wraps.
Heart disease, however, isn't her only health concern.
Sarandon had a breast cancer scare years ago when doctors found a calcium deposit in her breast. She underwent a biopsy to have it removed. It was benign, as calcifications often are, but "now I have breast checks every three months," she says.
There's no clear consensus by medical experts on the best timing for mammogram screening. Most experts recommend that women in their 20s and 30s get breast exams by their health providers about every three years. The American Cancer Society recommends that women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year, and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Women with increased risk of breast cancer (family history, genetic tendency or past breast cancer) should work with their doctors to determine the best screening regimen for them. And all women should conduct regular self-exams.
Women in their 50s, particularly those who are postmenopausal, are at an increased risk of many diseases. Still, Sarandon focuses on the positive: "Anything that makes you feel passionate and makes you laugh helps you to stay young," she says.
Her passions? World peace and other global issues. "When you are engaged in the bigger picture, you can't afford the space to become so self-involved that everything is a crisis for you," she says. "Grassroots [activism] gives ... hope when it seems things are overwhelming," she says. "It's empowering to volunteer."
After September 11th, Sarandon spent months at "Ground Zero" serving food to rescuers. "I didn't do this because I am such a great gal. I was a New Yorker, and a very scary thing happened, and volunteering helped me feel ... more in control and [that] the power of the individual wasn't lost."
She also engages in guided imagery, a visualization technique that some studies have shown can affect everything from perception of pain and weight loss to smoking cessation.
"If you can't imagine yourself in a good place, how can your body go there?" she asks. "Visualize everything from living to be 120 years old to peace in the world. You have to imagine it before it can happen," she says.