Please Don't Take Medical Advice From Celebrities

by Jorrie Varney
LEFT: Gabriel Olsen/Contributor/Getty / RIGHT: Kat Von D/Instagram

I love celebrities as much as the next girl. If I need a fresh, trendy piece to add to my wardrobe or a fun new hairstyle, I Google my favorite celebs to see what they’re rockin’. Celebrities often inspire us, or even influence us with their fashion and lifestyle choices.

They are constantly in the spotlight, so even when they are just trying to live their lives, people are watching, and taking note of the choices they’re making. Typically, this is a non-issue, but when it comes to things of a serious nature, like medical opinions, please don’t take advice from celebrities.

Recently, Kat Von D announced she would be raising her child vegan, without vaccinations. She wasn’t suggesting that anyone else raise their child on wheat grass and pray the measles away, but because she lives her life in the spotlight, her choices and opinions are immediately called into question. It’s like Spiderman’s grandpa said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” But in this case, responsibility is just making sure that the information you’re putting out into the world is evidence-based science, and not just some random shit you Googled and now believe to be true.

It’s always good to make informed decisions, which often requires a little research. Research is the best way to educate yourself on any topic. However, there’s one caveat—your sources have to be reputable. So, for example, if you researched something exhaustively (I’m looking at to you, Kat), you probably wouldn’t be anti-vaxx, because science and reputable sources.

Also, a few follow-up questions: If vaccines don’t work, where did polio go? Did it just get bored killing people and pack its polio bags and leave? How about Rubella? Mumps? Small Pox?

I shouldn’t single-out Kat, because it’s not just celebrities — you shouldn’t be taking advice from anyone who doesn’t have a medical degree. If you have a rash, take that shit to the doctor. I don’t want to see an image of your bumpy left thigh roll up in my Facebook newsfeed. This isn’t urgent care. Aunt Debbie once used salt instead of sugar in her holiday cookies. Do you really want her diagnosing you or recommending treatment? Seems like a really bad plan to me.

The best person to ask for advice about a medical condition is a medical professional. And no, WebMD doesn’t count. WebMD is just going to tell you that you are either dying or about to die, and as a registered nurse, I can tell you, WebMD is rarely correct. Medical professionals base their opinions and diagnoses on evidenced-based research. They’ve literally spent years of their life studying and are required to pass difficult exams and obtain licensure to have those opinions. Those licenses have to be kept current, which means continued education to stay up-to-date on new breakthroughs in science. That’s right, science.

And just to be clear, vaccines work. Horrible and deadly diseases have been eradicated because of vaccines. It’s not even debatable, it is a fact.

If it resulted from actual scientific research conducted by trained professionals, it’s a fact. If it came from anywhere else, it’s an ignorant opinion (at best) or promotion of a conspiracy theory. Don’t make major life decisions based on propaganda and conspiracy theories. Celebrities are great for entertainment, but they are people just like you and me, and maybe not so great for saving your family from violent and deadly plagues.

Bottom line: do your research (using fact-based, peer-reviewed sources) and consult with medical professionals. Your health and the health of your family is too important not to.