Monday, December 23, 2013

Celebrities and Public Health.

Whether your  favorite celebrity knows anything about health may be open to question.

However given the visibility of celebs such as Angelina Jolie and the topic of breast cancer; or  type II diabetes (such as Tom Hanks) many want to contribute their celebrity either due to a personal involvement with the disease or for charitable purposes.

Somewhat open to question are those who endorse a specific treatment,rather than elevating the public awareness of the disease or treatments.

Amy Orbach and Breast Cancer
Katherine Zeta-Jones and Bipolar Disorder

Tom Hanks and Type II Diabetes

Celebrities can use their enormous stage presence and visibility to the general public far more than millions of dollars spent by government in public health advertising or announcements.
Who does not know more about HIV and AIDS due to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, or Michael J. Foxx and Parkinsonism. The list goes

Kim Kardashian and the HIPAA Scandal at Cedar-Sinai

Actress Angelina Jolie explained her decision to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy to significantly reduce her risk of inherited breast cancer,


 The effects of the so-called "Angelina Jolie effect" even have reached across the pond, where breast cancer charities have reported a four-fold surge in women asking about having their breasts removed since Jolie announced she'd had the procedure, according to Daily Mail. And the number of calls Cancer Research UK's helpline received about a family history of breast cancer increased from 13 in April to 88 in May, the article noted.
In response to Jolie's breast cancer media bombshell, doctors acknowledged not all women need genetic testing but all women should discuss it with their doctors, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Kim Kardashian brought to light the importance of privacy and confidentiality in the health space and protected information by HIPAA.Some hospital employees in Los Angeles may have gone too far in their quest to "Keep Up with the Kardashians" and now have to face the consequences.

Five workers and a student research assistant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Calif.) were fired over privacy breaches involving patient medical records--and there is speculation that the patient was Kardashian, who gave birth to her daughter with rapper Kanye West in a birthing suite at the hospital on June 15, the Los Angeles Times reports. This event publicized HIPAA rules for the public and providers.

News correspondent Amy Robach announced that she has breast cancer and would undergo a double mastectomy--after reluctantly agreeing to have a mammogram live on-air for Good Morning America. Had she followed the United States Preventive Services Task Force 2009 guidelines for screening, it's likely she wouldn't have undergone her first mammogram until a decade later. Robach is just 40 years old and has little history of breast cancer. This brought to life the controversy of statistical evidence for screening for many diseases.

     Obama's camp took to popular comedy site Funny or Die to get the word out about the Affordable Care Act, with skits featuring Jennifer Hudson, Amy Poehler and Olivia Wilde. Parodying TV's Scandal, Jennifer Hudson plays a "fixer" who offers up the simple (well, it should be simple) solution of signing up for coverage on to clients presenting their problems.

     The first lady stepped into the public health spotlight with her "Let's Move" campaign, encouraging schoolchildren to eat healthier foods and exercise daily--she even enlisted Sesame Street characters Elmo and Rosita to help her promote eating fruits and vegetables during an official press conference

    In fact the Obama campaign used many celebs to raise awareness of the national website to enroll in the Affordable Care Act. As health care professionals we should not take for granted our knowledge base as compared to the public.  The Obama effort has some very funny videos that made even me laugh, and the ACA is no laughing matter.

Katherine Zeta-Jones revealed she had bipolar disorder back in 2011, shortly after husband Michael Douglas was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Zeta Jones commented on her struggle with bipolar ll (which is less severe than bipolar l), in 2011,

Yet there is a conflicting report that her disclosure had little if any effect on the number of BCRA tests following her announcement

And then there have been comments from people such as Jenny McCarthy when McCarthy told Oprah Winfrey she "graduated from the University of Google," to come to this idea, but she's been spreading her view that vaccinating young children for diseases like mumps results in autism in books, newspapers and on TV--much to the dismay of doctors, scientists, researchers and other celebrities.

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