Celebrities and health: good, bad, and ugly – in the BMJ

Katie Couric, Kylie Minogue, Michael J. Fox, Christina Applegate, Suzanne Somers, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow.

Just a few of the celebrities who have publicly taken advocacy stances on behalf of certain health care ideas.

Following celebrities’ medical advice: meta-narrative analysis,” is a paper in the BMJ. It concludes:

“The influence of celebrity status is a deeply rooted process that can be harnessed for good or abused for harm. A better understanding of celebrity can empower health professionals to take this phenomenon seriously and use patient encounters to educate the public about sources of health information and their trustworthiness. Public health authorities can use these insights to implement regulations and restrictions on celebrity endorsements and design counter marketing initiatives—perhaps even partnering with celebrities—to discredit bogus medical advice while promoting evidence based practices.”

The BMJ posted the following 12-minute video about this topic and this research.

Please note:  this video begins on its own.  I can’t control that.


In parallel, an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, “Katie Couric and the celebrity medicine syndrome,” is authored by one of the researchers, Steven J. Hoffman, and by science journalist Julia Belluz.  Excerpt:

“Celebrities have crept into our medicine cabinets and kitchens, influencing what pills we pop, tests we order and foods we fear. More often than not, their advice and products are dubious.”

The following are things we’ve written about celebrities and health issues in the past:


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