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Celebrities as Health Experts? A Recipe for Disaster

We love our celebrities in America. We love to read about their lives, follow their fashion trends, even know what exercises they follow to get those red-carpet bodies. If our adoration stopped there, we’d probably be OK. However, it’s been highlighted lately how celebrities are impacting our views about medicine and health. In some cases, this impact could be resulting in dangerous outcomes.

Dr. Anthony Youn is a plastic surgeon in Detroit. He recently shared his views in regards to how celebrities are overstepping their bounds as they attempt to be health advocates.

For years it’s been a common sight to see a celebrity endorse a product. Larry King promoted Garlique, the garlic supplement designed to help those with high cholesterol. More recently Lisa Rinna endorsed Depends as she wore them on the red carpet for charity.

Youn pointed out that other celebrities have taken their advocacy further than product promotion. For example, Michael J. Fox has done incredible things for the research of Parkinson Disease. Or as Youn asked, “who hasn’t worn a yellow Livestrong Bracelet promoted by Lance Armstrong as a way to help fund cancer studies?”

All of these actions of celebrities seem appropriate and in many cases, a wonderful use of their position. But what about when a celebrity, an actor with no medical training, convinces hoards of people to do something potentially dangerous? Youn narrows in on Jenny McCarthy as enemy number one. Her promotion of the idea that autism is linked to vaccines may be one of the single causes eradicated diseases have returned to our communities.

Since 2007 McCarthy has been extremely vocal about blaming her son’s autism on vaccinations. She’s appeared on numerous talk shows sharing her views. Interestingly enough, vaccine-preventable childhood diseases have made a comeback in the last few years, too. In 2010 10,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, were diagnosed in California alone. That’s the highest number since 1940. And 2011 brought the confirmed cases of measles in America to a 15-year high. These are just a few numbers that indicate how one celebrity, one who gained her fame as an MTV game show host, may have influenced an entire country of parents. Nevermind the case McCarthy used as her reason for believing the link existed, which has since been retracted and deemed discredited.

In response to the growing number of diseases, California has introduced a bill that would require parents to get counseling from a doctor before they can opt out of immunizing their children. And since California is the trendsetter state, assumedly other states may propose similar bills.

In all fairness, McCarthy likely never had any intention to cause harm; she may have simply underestimated her influence on the greater public. In any case, it’s a good idea to research your and your family’s health treatments wisely. Blindly trusting a celebrity clearly isn’t the best option. So if you’re going to put your faith in someone, trust the one with the medical degree, not the one who may have played one on TV.

Also Read:

Liam Hemsworth Stays Fit Surfing, Boxing and Lifting Weights 

Michelle Pfeiffer Goes Vegan 

Jessica Simpson Gets Paid $3 Million To Lose Baby Weight 

source: CNN | image via posh 24

June 8th, 2012

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