We are a society that is fascinated with the lives of celebrities. We like to know what they eat for dinner, where they shop for toothpaste and the details of their medical history. Many celebrities have been very open about their struggles with various diseases, in the hopes that they can inspire and educate others through their experiences. But when does it cross the line from sharing experiences, to giving medical advice that they aren't qualified to be dispensing?
Michael J. Fox has inspired millions through his struggle with Parkinson's Disease. He has raised money to research a cure and made this disease much more high-profile than it would have been otherwise. But you don't see him writing books about how to treat the condition, or giving others who have Parkinson's advice about how they should be handling the disease.
There are other celebrities who seem to cross the line from sharing experiences and bringing attention, to giving advice about treatment. Suzanne Somers is a good example. Her latest book, titled Knockout, discusses alternative cancer treatment therapies and disputes proven research in the area of cancer treatment and cures. Jenny McCarthy has been very vocal about the link between autism and vaccines, even though research has shown vaccines to be safe.
People look to celebrities like these for advice on how to treat their medical conditions. Are these celebrities just speaking out about things the medical community doesn't want you to know? Or are they crossing the line into territory they aren't qualified to discuss?
Should celebrities bear any additional responsibility to be careful about what they say because of who they are? Although many people would say they won't take advice from someone who's not a qualified expert, others put trust in celebrities that may or may not be justified. And honestly, it's much easier for a famous person to spread misinformation than it is for you or I to do it.
What do you think?
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