Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Mail says: Don't be taken in by health stories in the Mail

Don't be taken in by the celebrity quacks, says charity is the headline on an irony-free article by Fiona MacRae on the Mail website. It is reporting on Sense About Science's latest case file of celebrities talking about health and science without any evidence to back up their statements:

Every year we review celebrities’ dodgy science claims - from special diets and ‘miracle’ cures to chemicals, vaccines and evolution - and ask scientists what they should have said instead.

So MacRae looks at some of the weird claims made by celebs which Sense About Science have highlighted. One is from Roger Moore who:

claimed that eating foie gras can cause Alzheimer's, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, or 'a tasty way of getting terminally ill'.

In the section of MacRae's article titled 'How their theories fail to stack up' Moore's claim is totally dismissed:

FACT: There is no scientific evidence to prove that eating foie gras is responsible for any of the above diseases.

How strange then that Moore's claim originally appeared in an article he wrote for the, err, Mail.

Then there is Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, stating that:

The carbon dioxide in fizzy drinks causes wrinkles.

The Mail retorts:

FACT: The amount of the gas in soft drinks is dwarfed by levels naturally produced by the body. In any case, scientists cannot see how it would age the skin.

But they failed to make that point back in April when Shetty said it in an interview with Mark Anstead. In the Mail.

And what about Denise Van Outen's suggestion that:

Deodorants contain chemicals linked to breast cancer.

MacRae writes:

FACT: The link has not been proven and suspect compounds are too large to enter the body.

But back in June, the Mail was too distracted by the half-naked publicity shots of Van Outen to notice what she was saying. So they mindlessly repeated her claims anyway.

Indeed, of the 14 articles that Sense About Science highlight in their latest bulletin, ten come from different publications ranging from the New York Times, Cosmo Girl, Observer, Guardian, New York Post, Telegraph, Daily Record, US News & World, Good Housekeeping and the Reading Chronicle.

The other four were all in the Mail.

MacRae writes:

From Megan Fox's ideas about vinegar (a weight-loss tonic, apparently) to Gwyneth Paltrow's warnings on pesticides, all have been lapped up by an adoring public.

And by 'adoring public' she means lazy Mail churnalists re-heating any old crap uttered by a sleb.

'Don't be taken in by the celebrity quacks', said the headline. That's advice the Mail should take onboard more than anyone.

For everyone else - don't get your health advice from the tabloid press.

(Many thanks to Tim Chapman for the tip)


  1. To be fair, the half-naked pics of Denise van Outen distracted me away from reading this blog.

  2. I certainly don't recommend taking health advice from the Mail. Recently, my son was ill with a condition I didn't know much about, so naturally off I trotted to Google to research it. One of the first results was the Daily Mail website, which had an article on precisely that condition, purporting to be a summary of the facts relating to it. It was one of the most misleading and confusing "medical" pieces I've ever read, apparently contradicting (possibly not intentionally, it was just badly written and researched) most of the other more reputable websites I consulted.

  3. Kez - Not surprised by that at all. If you can. please do e-mail me a link - I'd like to take a look.


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