1 Comment »Posted on Tuesday 7 April 2009 at 6:43 pm by Jacob Aron
In Getting It Wrong, Health & Medicine

Actually if I’m being honest, she doesn’t, but then neither does shampoo – contrary to the actress’s claims.

Writing on her website goop.com she warned of “environmental toxins and their effects on our children.” The page has since been taken down, but not even Hollywood actresses can hide from Google, so you can still read the text here. Paltrow pointed to “chemicals that may or may not be safe” as a possible cause of diseases in children and gave suggestions from others for avoiding them:

The research is troubling; the incidence of diseases in children such as asthma, cancer and autism have shot up exponentially and many children we all know and love have been diagnosed with developmental issues like ADHD. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but perhaps we can do things to reduce illness in our children and ourselves. Below you will find some of the most prevalent facts and also easy, affordable ways to reduce exposure to substances which may be harming us.

The advice included “avoiding chemicals” by using olive oil or aloe vera gel in place of shampoo or skin lotion. Olive oil is made up of many types of fatty acids, whilst aloe vera contains, amongst other things, anthraquinone, commonly used in the production of dyes. In other words, both substances are chemicals – as is practically anything else you care to spread on your skin or stick in your mouth.

Many individuals and organisations have come out attacking Paltrow. Cancer Research UK point out that the number of children with cancer has not risen in the past ten years, whilst bacteriologist Professor Hugh Pennington described the claims as “rubbish” and “loopy”. He added:

“It does annoy me when celebrities use their position to spout nonsense. They have a perfect right to their views, even if they are loopy, but they do hold a position of influence. You may as well ask someone on the Underground.”

Quite right. Paltrow is completely abusing her stardom with these claims, and people might be tempted to follow her advice. Why members of the public would choose to listen to her over, say, Cancer Research UK, I have no idea. You only have to look at the popularity of fad diets or the racks of celeb magazines in supermarkets to see that the opinions of actresses’ carry great weight in society. Gwyneth Paltrow is welcome to speak out on whatever she pleases, but I hope next time she tries to be a little more informed.


  1. One Comment

  2. “You may as well ask someone on the Underground.”

    Actually, if you ask somebody on the underground, they might well turn out to be a scientist or a doctor or someone else who knows what they’re talking about. Whereas celebrities, almost by definition, don’t, because it’s not their job. Celebrities are probably amongst the least trustworthy people when it comes to science.

    By Neuroskeptic on Wednesday 8 April, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.