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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine August 2005
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Jane Seymour

Actress, Artist, and Heart-Health Activist By Dave Tuttle

Jane Seymour is a woman with a passion for life. Her career has encompassed virtually all media forms—from movies and the Broadway stage to books and art—yet she has no intention of slowing down as the years progress.

In fact, Jane seems energized by the many opportunities that lie ahead, including her participation in The Heart Truth, a national campaign to raise women’s awareness of heart disease. As part of this campaign, Jane is teaming with the California Pistachio Commission to create “Art for the Heart,” four original, heart-inspired paintings by Seymour that are being sold as limited-edition note cards to support women’s heart health initiatives nationwide and bring attention to the ongoing problem of heart disease in women.

Born in Hillingdon, England, and raised in Wimbledon by a British obstetrician and his Dutch wife, Jane began training in dance at an early age, and was just 13 when she made her professional debut with the London Festival Ballet. That same year, she entered the Arts Educational for dance, music, and theater training, and danced with the visiting Kirov Ballet.

After suffering an injury, she turned to acting, first appearing in Richard Attenborough’s Oh, What a Lovely War, and shortly thereafter portraying Solitaire in the popular James Bond film, Live and Let Die. Catapulted to stardom by this role, she has since played many different characters, including the title role in the popular television drama, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Jane continues to star in projects for the small and big screen, including the upcoming movie, The Blind Guy. She will no doubt be a creative force for years to come.

Life Extension recently caught up with Jane at a Beverly Hills bistro, where the conversation quickly turned to heart health and longevity.

Life Extension: Your career has spanned so many artistic forms. Is there a particular medium you like the best?

Jane Seymour: I like each medium for its own reasons. There is nothing like being live in front of an audience, but film is great, too, because you can do multiple takes and have enough budget to get things right. TV is also good because it allows you to reach a wider audience. All in all, film is best because you can do things properly.

LE: Tell us about your latest project. How is it different from others you’ve done?

JS: My latest film, The Blind Guy, is about a kid born blind who is attempting to find love. I play a comedic psychologist who helps the kid when he falls in love with an East Indian girl. It’s a wonderful script that is different from anything else out there. It’s good to be playing comedy again, but I look very different than I normally look. It’s definitely a character role.

LE: One of your most notable roles, Dr. Quinn, was very popular because it speaks to the importance of family. What are your views about different generations working together for a common goal?

JS: One of the plusses of the Dr. Quinn show was that it showed how every generation has its own role. This concept seems to be lost for many people in society today, who see older people as redundant. Every generation needs to realize how valuable each person is and how fortunate we all are to have each other. Each individual offers special thoughts and experiences, and everyone needs to realize that. The show discussed contemporary issues set in the 1870s. These issues are still valid today.

LE: You’ve been so active with your books and charitable events that I doubt you will ever retire in the traditional sense. What are your views on longevity and the need to stay active?

JS: My role model is my mother, who is 90 years old. She would still be running a business if she had the chance, but she has macular degeneration and arthritis, so she is unable to. Still, she goes to the cinema and is always helping other people. She is so full of compassion. She believes that you need to get involved and stay involved. We both believe that the older you get, the more you have to offer society—not less.

LE: Your commitment to fighting heart disease in women is commendable. Why did you choose to become involved in women’s heart issues?

JS: Once I found out what the statistics are on women and heart disease, I had to become involved. Heart disease is the number-one killer of women. In 2002, 51% of the deaths from this disease were women. I was also astounded to learn that more than six times as many women die from heart disease than from breast cancer each year, even though breast cancer gets most of the publicity.

As a woman, daughter, sister, and mother of two girls, I realized how this issue could easily touch my own life. Getting involved was the next logical step.

LE: Tell us about The Heart Truth and what it does to educate women about heart disease.

JS: The Heart Truth is a public awareness campaign by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. The campaign’s goal is to reduce the level of misunderstanding among women about what causes heart disease. For example, a recent survey found that many people believe as much as 50% of heart disease occurs in persons who don’t have any of the traditional risk factors for it, such as cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, and diabetes. In fact, 95% of those who die from heart disease have at least one risk factor.

One of the main awareness-building measures of this campaign is using the red dress as a symbol, along with the slogan, “heart disease doesn’t care what you wear.” On National Wear Red Day, held the first Friday of February each year, women and men across the country unite to give women an urgent wake-up call about their risk of heart disease. As a corporate partner of The Heart Truth, the California Pistachio Commission has been promoting these goals by providing consumers with facts about eating well. They also approached me last year to do a campaign to raise the awareness of heart disease among women. So far I have done four paintings that were lithographed on note cards and sold to raise money for woman’s heart health education. The paintings include Red Tulips in a Clear Vase, Woman in a Red Dress, Portrait of a Red Rose, and Self-Portrait in Red. This was a great match for me, since I love to paint and wanted to make a personal contribution. Next year, I plan to paint more card designs for the commission.

“The Heart Truth”

About 6.7 million American women have heart disease. One in three women dies of this condition, which can also lead to disability and a significantly reduced quality of life. In 2002, heart disease killed 356,000 women—more than the number who lost their lives to stroke, lung cancer, breast cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease combined. Unfortunately, very few women are aware of these facts or take their risk of heart disease seriously.

To make women more aware of the dangers of heart disease, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and partner organizations are sponsoring a national campaign called The Heart Truth. Its goal is to give women a personal and urgent wake-up call about their risk of heart disease. While aimed primarily at women aged 40 to 60—the time of life when a woman’s risk of heart disease begins to rise—the campaign’s messages are also important for younger women, as heart disease develops gradually and can begin as early as the teenage years.

One of the main messages of The Heart Truth is that women can reduce their risk factors and improve their heart health, even if they already have heart disease. It is never too late to take action, and the campaign offers a wide range of suggestions on how to take charge of one’s heart health. The campaign’s website features moving stories of real women living with heart disease, along with revealing surveys and statistics about the incidence of this condition. Corporate partners and their efforts to educate the public are also included.

For more information, visit www.hearttruth.gov.

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