Why patients should be careful of celebrity medical advice

More celebrities are giving medical advice these days.

Rahul Parikh explores the phenomenon in a recent piece from Slate, citing Lance Armstrong, Suzanne Somers, and Jenny McCarthy, among others.

But does their celebrity make them an authority in a given medical issue? Unfortunately, too many people think so, as following celebrity medical advice can be dangerous

Their messages have led some doctors and patients to make inappropriate health decisions, at times increasing risks for patients and driving up health care costs. Their advocacy, while informative and inspiring, often oversimplifies complex medical issues. Finally, the first-class advantages most celebrities enjoy can create false hope for their economy-class public.

Regarding that last point, Christopher Reeve’s treatment for his paralysis is cited, costing upwards of half a million dollars a year; an amount that most Americans cannot afford.

Celebrity medical advice isn’t going to go away. More are realizing their influence, and outlets like The Huffington Post are all to willing to give them prominent platforms.

As Dr. Parikh concludes, it’s best to be influenced by celebrities who work with medical professionals, like Katie Couric for instance, rather than Suzanne Somers and Jenny McCarthy-types, who treat doctors with outright contempt.

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