Like it or not, celebrities are influencers. Legions of fans follow their lead and listen to their words as if they were an authority. They drop fashion tips, promote dining hotspots, advocate for social issues and even spout political opinions that can help sway minds. Of course, many stars are intelligent, articulate people we respect in so many ways, but you can’t always trust what they’re talking about. Here are some celebs who have dispensed health and wellness advice that you really need to think twice about. Best to get your medical facts from your doctor, not a Hollywood tweet.
1. Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise famously went on a rant against antidepressants when discussing Brook Shield’s struggle with postpartum depression on the Today Show back in 2005. He started spouting off about psychiatry being a “pseudo-science” and declared that “there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance,” a viewpoint he gleaned through his Scientology beliefs. He even got specific about Aderol and Ritalin, implying that he had some special insights about the nefarious history of these and other antipsychotic drugs. He kind of came across like a guy who’d just gone off his meds in that interview with Matt Lauer. Tom may indeed have a point about the overuse of prescription drugs in America, but the actor is not qualified to speak so authoritatively on such a serious subject to such a large audience. Don’t just take his “vitamins and exercise” prescription without consulting a real professional if you’re battling depression.
2. Kim Kardashian
It’s hard to believe people come to Kim for advice for anything beyond fashion and makeup tips, but with over 36 million Twitter followers and a huge audience on her reality shows, Kim’s word is gospel to an enormous segment of the population. So when she started promoting the drug Diclegis to combat morning sickness during her second pregnancy, the FDA got its back up. There’s a federal rule about revealing side effects when promoting drugs, not just its benefits, and Kim failed to talk about the hazardous drowsiness effect Diglegis can have on some people. Using reality TV stars as marketing vehicles for pharmaceuticals is a little scary. We’d caution you not to get important health information from a Kardashian (do we really have to say this?). Consult your doctor for a better dose of reality.
3. Dr. Oz
This one’s a little tricky because the celebrity in question doesn’t just play a doctor on TV, he really is one – and a well respected one at that. The Harvard educated cardiothoracic surgeon just happens to have a television show and magazine, and millions of people look to him for a myriad of health and wellness concerns. He came under fire, however, in 2014, for promoting dubious products and making health claims that weren’t backed up by medical evidence. For example, he extolled the virtues of green coffee bean extract as a magic pill for weight loss on his show, boosting sales dramatically. However, he was called to a Congressional hearing where it came out that the product he endorsed was not backed by credible science. In fact, only 46 per cent of his on-air recommendations were found to be supported by evidence. We’re not saying don’t listen to Dr. Oz, but do some homework before taking his snappy TV advice as the definitive word. He does have a commercial agenda that may influence some of his recommendations.
4. Jenny McCarthy
Former Playboy model turned TV personality Jenny McCarthy became the poster girl for autism when her son was diagnosed with the disorder. In specific, she was an outspoken advocate against vaccinations as she thought they were an autism trigger. The 1998 study she based her thoughts on was found to be fraudulent, and many other large-scale studies have shown there is no definitive link. She preached beliefs that were based on anecdotal information and helped fuel the anti-vax movement. She also claims that chelation therapy cured her son of autism, something that is not supported by medical consensus, leaving some people to question her son’s diagnosis in the first place. We applaud Jenny’s maternal desire to try everything she can to help her son, but she sold a lot of books and dispensed a lot of advice that was of questionable credibility.
5. Gwyneth Paltrow
The actress raised some eyebrows recently when she promoted a peculiar practice on her lifestyle site, Goop. She recommended that women steam bath their private parts as a sort of vaginal sauna cleanse. She called it “an energetic release – not just a steam douche – that balances female hormone levels.” However, most medical doctors discourage any kind of douching, as it can disturb the natural flora of the feminine reproductive system. It may even lead to urinary tract infections and the overgrowth of yeast. Gwyneth also stirred controversy when a Goop post claimed tight bras and underwires could lead to breast cancer. This is not what the American Cancer Society says, and they’re probably the better authority. Get your $90 T-shirts, organic recipes and bespoke decorating tips from Gwyneth, but give some of her questionable health and wellness sharing a second thought.
6. Mayim Bialik
Not only does Mayim Bialik play neuroscientist on TV, she’s also one in real life. Yes, both Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory and the actress who plays her are super smart, but we don’t have to heed her wisdom. For example, Bialik believes that women should ingest their own placenta’s after giving birth. She wrote a blog post in 2012 saying, “human beings are the only mammals that have chosen to not routinely ingest their placenta, which is consumed by every other mammal for its protein and iron-rich properties that are critical in helping the mother’s body recuperate after giving birth. End of story.” It’s not something that is widely recommended by the medical profession. In fact, a recent study showed placentophogy had no real benefits. Go ahead, eat it if you want to, but don’t feel guilty if this one’s too yucky for you.
7. January Jones
Miyam Bialuk is not the only woman to espouse placenta eating. Rather than frying it up with a nice Chianti, the Mad Men star chose to have her’s dried and made into placenta capsules after her son Xander was born. She believes ingesting this helped stave off postpartum depression. Your midwife might recommend this, but the medical profession doesn’t see the tangible benefits.
8. Shailene Woodley
Among the Divergent star’s odd health recommendations is eating clay. No, she’s not snacking on pottery or Play-Dough, but she does believe that ingesting clay helps to detoxify her system. She believes its negative electrical charge binds with heavy metals and other positively charged toxins in the body so they can be expelled. She also recommends women spread their legs and get a little sun on their private parts, for Vitamin D purposes. Whatever floats your boat, Shailene, but these practices aren’t really back up by science. Lady parts aren’t designed for a lot of UV exposure, and clay munching isn’t recommended by most health professionals.
9. Jessica Alba
Even Jessica Alba struggled with losing baby weight after giving birth to her two girls. She resorted to wearing corset-like “waist training” devices to cinch her back into shape. “I wore a double corset day and night for three months,” she told Shape magazine. “It was brutal; it’s not for everyone.” However, in her assessment it was “sweaty but worth it.” Sounds too good to be true. While you might get a temporary tightening from donning one of these, this is no long lasting solution. Better to stick with diet, exercise and Spanx, like the rest of us.
10. Alicia Silverstone
Alicia Silverstone positioned herself as the ultimate Earth Mother in her book The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning. We support her healthy lifestyle, but some of the unconventional things she recommends are a little out there. She’s another advocate for placenta eating, is on the anti-vax bandwagon and also says no to tampons and diapers. Some of her claims are a little too extreme for comfort, like when she says a plant-based diet can prevent miscarriages and postpartum depression. Don’t get your key parenting advice from a has-been movie star, as she seems to be a little “clueless” on some important matters. Her fame maybe scored her a book deal, but it doesn’t really qualify her to dispense health and wellness tips.
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