Celebrities say: Take this medical advice*

Medical advice magnified

I have an idea.

Let’s hold celebrities accountable for the medical advice that they give.

Much of it is just plain silly, like Gwyneth Paltrow’s recommendation to steam your vagina.

You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al. It is an energetic release—not just a steam douche—that balances female hormone levels. If you’re in LA, you have to do it.

But some of it is deadly, like Jenny McCarthy’s claims about vaccination, Ricki Lake’s claims about homebirth, or Suzanne Sommers’ claims about cancer therapies.

Why haven’t these celebrities been sued for the injuries and deaths that result? The answer is in the fine print.

At the very bottom of the website of Jenny McCarthy’s organization, Generation Rescue, in teeny, tiny print, it says:

None of the information presented here should be considered medical advice or a “cure” for autism. The information presented represents strategies for dealing with autism that have been reported as successful by professionals and/or families with autism. While we believe this information to be accurate we are not in a position to independently verify it and cannot guarantee that it will work in any particular case…

The first page of Ricki Lake’s book, My Best Birth has this disclaimer:

This book is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians…

Hidden in the Terms and Conditions Page of Suzanne Sommers website is this:

Information contained in SuzanneSomers.com is not a substitute for professional medical advice, health care services or a medical exam. Nothing accessed is or should be interpreted as a general or specific recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product, exercise regimen or course of action.

This is supposed to protect these celebrities from any responsibility for their recommendations, products and advice (because regardless of what they say, it IS advice).

Here’s my thought:

Anyone harmed as a result of taking the advice of these celebrities or harmed by using the products that these celebrities shill in their books and movies and on their websites should be able to sue the celebrities for malpractice. Why malpractice? Because if a celebrity is profiting from her recommendations (through products, books and movies), she is practicing medicine without a license. Of course if the celebrity is not profiting, merely sharing what she and her family do, she should not be liable in any way. There’s a big difference between saying, “Here’s what I do.” and saying “Buy this in order to …”

After all, other companies and their executives are responsible for harm devolving from the products they sell, whether that harm was predictable of not. We don’t allow car companies to put tiny labels on their cars claiming that since you chose to buy the car, you are responsible for any harm that occurs when using the car. Why should we allow celebrities to put tiny print on their websites, books and movies (which are offering detailed medical ADVICE), claiming that they are not responsible for the outcome because it isn’t really advice (wink, wink)?

This is not censorship, because these same celebrities are free to give the exact same advice; they’re simply held accountable for it.

And how could holding them accountable be a problem if they are sure that the advice/recommendations/products they are promoting are safe and effective? It wouldn’t, if they had the courage of their convictions, right? They’d simply be putting their considerable wealth where their mouth is, and they can afford it.

So I declare people should be allowed to sue celebrities for harmful medical recommendations … but this claim should not be construed as legal advice.

 

*This statement should not be construed as medical advice.

  • MsJack

    Great. I’m glad we’re finally acknowledging that celebrities are not experts on anything outside the realm of entertainment (with some few exceptions).

    Please remember that next time they tell us how to vote.

    • Fallow

      A celebrity who espouses political beliefs, is not the same thing as one who has made a career out of dispensing unqualified, potentially harmful medical advice. It simply isn’t. People are entitled to have political beliefs, and to talk about them, even if they made the mistake of getting famous.

      Judging by your disqus history, you seem to feel comfortable promoting your own political beliefs (anti-choice), so I fail to see why a celebrity is automatically disqualifed from talking about their own beliefs.

  • Outi

    Yes! Maybe it would cut down the bullshit.

  • Mike
    • Nick Sanders

      I call bullshit.

      • I love how they can’t get over their bias long enough to pretend to be a neutral party. IT’S A WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING, GET IT? GET IT? Subtle jabs!

    • Young CC Prof

      A link to myagendais .org, with no explanation, is not exactly my idea of a cogent and logical argument.

  • Eskimo

    So basically that’s Gwyneth Paltrows world famous recipe for steamed clams.

    (((Rim shot)))

    Anywhoooo, don’t forget Mayim Bialik and Alicia Silverstone.

  • Dr Kitty

    The Guardian published an article by an actual Dr about Ms Paltrow’s suggested treatment.
    It ended, rather marvellously:
    “Steaming the vagina cannot possibly impact on hormone levels. I urge you to put the kettle away, throw the mugwort in some soup and consciously uncouple from this website.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/30/sorry-gwyneth-paltrow-but-steaming-your-vagina-is-a-bad-idea

  • Allie P

    We went to one of those Korean spas where you sit around on hot salt rocks or in cold ice block saunas and take baths in various temp pools before eating bibimbap and bubble tea. They also have these rooms encased in various crystals which are beautiful and relaxing, whether or not the crystals have any healing energies associated with them. Anyway, they had, for an extra charge, one of these womb-steaming activities and we saw the poor women doing it, encased neck to floor in some kind of tent while they sat on their stools. It looked…. well, not as relaxing as the hot salt rock room, let’s put it that way.

  • demodocus’ spouse

    Heck, celebrity doctors aren’t necessarily people you should listen to! *cough* Dr Oz *cough, cough*

  • Sue

    The steam passes through the cervix? Who knew?

    • toni

      well the little hole in it isn’t completely closed right? ‘Cause semen gets through.. or is it just the little sperms idk. I swear since I had a baby I can feel this little slit/hole i never felt before. sorry tmi

      • Cobalt

        I’ve had a “new normal” since baby 2. It feels like my cervix isn’t shut tight. I have no idea what the actual source of the sensation is, but that’s how it feels.

        • Dr Kitty

          Parity does change the appearance of the external cervical os from a small circular opening, to a larger slit.

          Images here: possibly NSFW (depending on how your employer feels about 3 photos of cervixes).

          http://www.eurocytology.eu/static/eurocytology/eng/cervical/LP1ContentAcont.html

          • SporkParade

            Interesting. Got any other images of how parity changes things down there?

          • Paula

            There are lots of pictures here (mostly selfies with a speculum and mirror, from what I understand): http://beautifulcervix.com/

          • Dr Kitty

            Great site, but not all of those images are of a normal, healthy cervix.

            If you have a dragging sensation, a lump in the vagina or think your cervix is lower than it was you may have a pelvic organ prolapse.
            If possible you should see a GP or Gynaecologist for an examination.
            Prolapses are easily diagnosed by examination.

            This site has some great tips about talking to providers and getting a correct diagnosis.
            http://www.voicesforpfd.org/p/cm/ld/fid=6

          • toni

            those first two don’t look so different to me. mine feels like I could put my hole finger through it if i wanted (i won’t because it would hurt). i discovered this quite recently when i thought i lost a tampax up there (i know. lol) but the last time i did that was when i was a teenager I didn’t even feel my cervix then (or even know that you could). i think it’s a lot lower and not completely closed now and I can sort of feel that it’s there after sex (i feel this weird pressure) whereas before I was barely aware of its existence. It’s the only body change i’ve noticed so I guess I shouldn’t complain but..ick. Apparently the second baby is what does a number on you :[ I’ll see in August

          • Suzi Screendoor

            Dang, I was cautiously optimistic that the second pregnancy would undo all the weird changes caused by the first pregnancy.

          • Cobalt

            That’s a really cool link.

            The feeling I have feels like that picture looks, but is it possible that I can actually feel that without an exam? It’s worse since the IUD going in, even though it’s definitely in right, and my OB says everything looks regular.

  • Kq

    It shocks me every time anyone takes some random celebrity’s advice over any actual doctor’s.

  • just me

    Ugh, gp. So wrong on so many levels.

  • Mac Sherbert

    Can we just say it’s not a good idea to take advice from celebrities period. They are entertainers. Yes. We love them, but seriously that is about all most of them are qualified to do…Entertain.

    • Fallow

      So I really despise it when people are literal followers of celebrities, and I hate it when people treat Ricki Lake or Jenny McCarthy like great thinkers in medical science. It’s ridiculous for obvious reasons.

      But the fact that someone is famous, does not mean they are stupid or wrong. Celebrities are human, and they can make logical arguments that are supported by evidence. Of course, that means that many of them say dumb nonsense, but famous people have hardly got a lock on idiocy. We can go hit up the Babycenter or YouTube comments if we want evidence of that.

      People, in general, are very bad at evaluating evidence. A celebrity’s stance on an issue ought to be judged on whether it conforms to evidence, not on the mere fact they are famous. OBVIOUSLY no one outside of the medical profession should be dispensing medical “advice”, and certainly nothing like “Have your baby in a kiddie pool, attended by a high school drop-out”.

      But I suspect if a celebrity were to say, “I love all the medical advances that have prevented women and children from dying in childbirth, and epidurals are great, and thank God for formula”, many of us would think they were reasonable people, right?