Celebrity health advice poses health risks

Celebrity-endorsed pseudoscience poses a serious threat to women’s health. Pedaling questionable claims and cures, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop embodies this dilemma. 

“[Goop is] a fully formed lifestyle site, offering a tight curation of products and contents,” as stated on the Goop official webpage.  

Originally a newsletter by Gwyneth Paltrow, the project has grown into a massive organization that features a weekly email, fashion tips, beauty recommendations and—of course—health advice. While many of their health articles are simply about different facemasks or advertisements for vitamins, some tackle serious issues. They do so, however, without scientific support and with sweeping misconceptions that could be dangerous to consumers.

 For instance, in the article “Why We Shouldn’t Dismiss Iodine,” Paltrow interviews Anthony Williams. Williams is neither a doctor nor a scientist—he is a “medical medium.” 

“[I have] the unique ability to converse with a high-level spirit who provides ... extraordinarily accurate health information that’s often far ahead of its time,” Williams said on his website.  

The article promotes Williams’ book Thyroid Healing, but masquerades as a sincere conversation about the dangers of iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency, however, has dropped precipitously since 1924, when the supplementation of salt with iodine was government mandated to combat the problem of goiters and hypothyroidism, according to Forbes. 

When asked about iodine deficiency by The Huffington Post, endocrinologist Elena Christofides claimed that she had seen just one case over her 19 years as a physician. The article by Goop, however, paints a different picture. 

Goop asserts that—because of the new environmental toxins and “overabundance of stress, emotional challenges, struggles, losses and hardships”—the body now uses iodine much more quickly than it did back in 1924. This fallacy establishes a platform for Goop to advertise their iodine supplement and for Williams to advertise his book. 

OB-GYN specialist Jennifer Gunter describes Goop’s pseudoscience as a real problem. The idea that iodine can be used to fight infections and to prevent future infections or cancer could cause people to go without proper medical treatment or screenings, according to Gunter. This would ultimately cause more serious infections and illnesses. 

Gunter also criticized one of Goop’s more notorious, controversial articles. The article— “Jade Eggs for Your Yoni”—featured self-described “guru/healer/inspiration/friend” Shiva Rose.

Rose implored women to insert $66 jade eggs into their vaginas to strengthen the pelvic floor, “cultivate sexual energy, clear chi pathways and invigorate our life force,” according to the Goop article.  

Rose claimed that jade eggs could cure everything—from lack of orgasms to the pain of divorce. She also emphasized that the process is simple. Women just insert the egg and then go about life as usual; Rose said that women could go to work, ride the subway or sleep with the egg in. Gunter, on the other hand, protested these assertions. 

“I would like to point out that jade is porous, which could allow bacteria to get inside ... this is not good ... it could be a risk factor for bacterial vaginosis or even potentially deadly toxic shock syndrome,” Gunter said.

Additionally, Gunter pointed out that having a constant weight on the pelvic floor muscles—those used in Kegel exercises—will not result in stronger orgasms. Instead, women will have pelvic pain and pain with sex, according to Gunter.   

These are just two examples of Goop’s medical incompetence; many other articles could have poor consequences for regular readers. When it comes to the truth of each article, there was only one point that Goop, Christofides and Gunter agreed on: first, check with your doctor.