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Cancer Health Center

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Surviving Thyroid Cancer: Sofia Vergara's Story

How this actress and mom faced a health scare early in her career.

Thyroid Cancer 101 continued...

Only about 5% to 10% of cases of hypothyroidism are caused by the surgical removal of the thyroid, says Bodenner. Most are a form of autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Another cause is treatment of hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid makes too much hormone. Either way, it's crucial to get thyroid hormone levels back to normal (usually with a medication).

Although you can't restore lost thyroid function through lifestyle choices like healthy diet and exercise alone, Bodenner notes that many people with hypothyroidism -- especially those who have trouble losing weight -- can benefit from a low-carbohydrate diet rich in vegetables and fruits.

Vergara takes this advice to heart. "This is all stuff that people should be doing anyway if we want to be healthy," she says, although she confesses it's not always easy to practice what she preaches. "I've never been a very big fan of exercising," she says. "In Colombia, I didn't grow up in a culture of working out. But I've accepted it, now that I'm getting older and see things shifting and changing."

Sofia Vergara's Family Life

Speaking of shifts and changes, is Vergara, like her "Modern Family" character, ready for a second child? Could be. She's spoken openly about freezing her eggs so that she and her fiancé, producer Nicholas Loeb, have the chance to have kids together. "When you go through cancer and radiation, and also when you're my age, things don't happen the way they used to happen," she says. "But now with modern medicine and science, we have more opportunity to do things like that. Why not take advantage of it?"

In the meantime, she's reveling in her white-hot career. "Modern Family" starts its fifth season in the fall, and she has two couldn't-be-more-different films coming out soon: director John Turturro's comedy Fading Gigolo, with Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, and Liev Schreiber, and Machete Kills, with Mel Gibson, Jessica Alba, and Michelle Rodriguez. She also has a new line of "shapewear for soccer moms," available at Kmart stores.

Finding herself in comedy was a happy accident, Vergara says. "When I decided to be an actress, I didn't know that's what I'd be doing. But I started to get cast in comedies and began to realize that was the direction I was supposed to go in." Ultimately, she'd like to see herself with a long acting career like that of another iconic star with a similar name: Sophia Loren. "She's had an amazing career internationally and is still beautiful and active today," Vergara says. "She had a loving family and a marriage of decades. I think that's amazing, to be able to juggle all that."

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