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Do Celebrities Affect the Way We Think About Health?


Companies pay celebrities and social media influencers because they know they have such a huge following and impact on the decisions of these organizations’ target market. Celebrities can make you buy products that are not good for you. They can make you believe that after using a particular skin-care product, you might just look the same as them. You will visit restaurants and places, and try to buy expensive things because a celebrity endorsed them. The sky’s the limit when it comes to celebrity endorsements.

But does that apply to one’s health, too? Celebrities can have a huge impact on people’s view of their health and how they behave toward these views and worries. Medical experts, in fact, have a term for this. It is called the Angelina Jolie effect, which came upon after the actress-director-humanitarian wrote a piece in the New York Times in 2013 about inheriting a “faulty gene.” This gene, she said, gave her an 87% chance of developing breast cancer and a 50% chance of risk of ovarian cancer. She got a preventive double mastectomy and called on other women to do the same.

The Problem with Celebrities Endorsing Testing and Screening

There’s another story from a medical doctor about a patient asking for a prostate cancer test because Ben Stiller had one. The doctor declines because the test is only useful if the person already has symptoms. It can actually create a false-positive result, which will lead to needless worry and investigations.

The thing about celebrity endorsements of certain tests, procedures, screenings, and supplements is that they don’t fit everyone’s health issues and medical history. This simply means that if you idolize celebrities and social media influencers, you can show your support through other means. You can buy a brand of handbag or perfume that they endorse. Some even spend thousands of dollars on signed memorabilia from the movies that these actors starred in. But when it comes to your health, you need to listen to only one person: your doctor.

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Impact of Influencers on Your Diets

One of the most popular celebrity diets now is the gluten-free diet, which is followed by such stars as Novak Djokovic, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Victoria Beckham. While people can stay healthy on a gluten-free diet, 1% of the population has coeliac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that triggers an immune response in the small intestine when the person consumes gluten. Many people who are on a gluten-free diet believe they have this disease, so they continue spending on gluten-free food products.

But this isn’t just how celebrities and influencers are impacting your diets. They’re also making you think twice about your own efforts to maintain your health. Are you doing enough exercise? Are you eating the right food? Far too many people are eliminating and adding foods in their diets that they haven’t checked in with their doctors. Many are taking supplements and diet pills because someone they idolize endorsed it. Then, of course, there’s also the cult following of juice cleanse, which does not work for people suffering from severe hyperacidity.

The Anti-vaccination Movement

Whether or not you are for or against vaccination, you should never let celebrities and health advocates affect your decision to get or not get the jab. There’s a growing movement of anti-vaxxers among celebrities. In 2009, popular actor Jim Carrey even wrote a piece about it. Djokovic is another influential celebrity behind the anti-vaccine movement. Experts point to this movement as the reason for the growing number of measles and whooping cough, both of which have vaccines.

Medical experts warned that such erroneous information spread by celebrities, influencers, and even “health” advocates only leads to epidemics of long-gone diseases. Doctors all agree that vaccines are beneficial, describing them as safe and “perhaps the greatest public health success in the history of civilization.” Over the past decades, there have been hundreds of thousands of investigations and research into vaccines. None of those showed that any of the formulations of vaccines can cause autism or other developmental problems that anti-vaxxers point to.

It is hard to quantify the influence of celebrities on the health concerns of most people. At some point, medical experts agree that it is mostly because there’s been a decline in the trust people put on traditional health care providers. This opened the gates for alternative perspectives, which can come, of course, from celebrities, influencers, and advocates with huge followings.

But every time you think about following a health advice that did not come from your doctor, think of it this way: would you believe a toddler if he told you to drink a certain medicine? Non-medical people have the same knowledge about medicines, vaccines, and diagnosis as a three-year-old who’s just learning how to talk. Whatever you read and hear, take it with a grain of salt if it did not come from your doctor.

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