Former Playboy playmate and actress Jenny McCarthy has been a high-profile and controversial voice speaking out about autism and what she believes may cause it after her son was diagnosed with the disorder. McCarthy has said for years that her child’s autism may have been caused by childhood vaccines, a belief that has no scientific evidence supporting it. McCarthy advocates that the number of childhood vaccines as well as the ingredients in them should be reduced to prevent autism. She also believes that her son’s autism was cured after he underwent chelation therapy and she changed his diet to be gluten and casein free.
A study by British researcher Andrew Wakefield published in the journal Lancet first implicated the combination measle, mump, and rubella vaccine as a cause of colitis as well as autism spectrum disorders. The findings led to a sharp decline in vaccination rates. However, a closer review by a British journalist as well as the scientific community in 2004 found that the evidence in the study had been falsified. As a result, Wakefield was stripped of his license to practice medicine. While McCarthy has stayed true to her beliefs about the link between autism and vaccines, there is no scientific evidence that links vaccines to the development of autism. There is also no scientifically recognized cure for autism.
ABC Television announced in July 2013 that McCarthy would join its popular talk show, “The View.’’ Her appointment has sparked heated reaction from MD Mama blogger, pediatrician Dr. Claire McCarthy, and others in the medical community about how Jenny McCarthy’s views on vaccines could lead many mothers not to vaccinate their children.
For more information on autism and vaccines, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website
Read more about other celebrities who have made controversial statements through the years about health topics.
Actress and mom Alicia Silverstone is no stranger to controversial statements. In March 2012, Silverstone posted a video to her blog showing her pre-chewing food and having her son eat the food directly out of her mouth. She does this mama-bird gesture with her son because, she said, it’s the natural way to keep him from choking, since he hadn’t grown teeth yet.
A few months later she said she wants the world to share in the benefits of breast milk. Quite literally. Silverstone has launched a breast milk sharing program called Kind Mama Milk Share. She was inspired to create the program when a friend who had breast reduction surgery was “beside herself’’ because she couldn’t produce enough milk to feed her child.
Breastfeeding is strongly recommended by health care professionals, and breast milk sharing is an age old practice. However, the US Food and Drug Administration recommends exercising caution before looking for alternative sources of human breast milk to feed babies. Donors should be adequately screened for drug use and infectious diseases, which all cross into the milk supply, according to the FDA.
Visit the FDA website for the full list of things to consider before accepting donor breastmilk.
While other celebrities may be investing in face lifts to prevent aging, reality star Kim Kardashian says she’s found another method to maintaining her youthful skin: vampire facials.
A skincare treatment that involves drawing blood from a patient and reinjecting it under the skin . What’s the theory behind this seemingly painful procedure?
“The patient’s own platelet rich plasma is applied to the skin preceded by a laser treatment and followed by a micro-needling process in which the skin is perforated with near microscopic holes,’’ Dr. Sam Lam, a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon based in Dallas, told the Huffington Post. “The growth factors in the platelet rich plasma reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while improving the skin’s tone and texture.’’
However, Dr. Joseph Merola, a dermatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital told The Boston Globe that there’s not a lot of science involved in the procedure:
“In theory, growth factors will thicken the skin’s outer dermis, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and provide some rejuvenation, but all of these cells in the skin are already bathed in blood and perfused with these growth factors,’’ he said.
Supermodel Gisele Bündchen is not only fierce on the runway, she’s also fierce when it comes to her controversial statements about motherhood.
In the August 2010 issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK, Gisele is quoted as saying:
“Some people here think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think, ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child, when they are so little?’ There should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.’’
Her comment seemed to pin breastfeeding mothers against bottlefeeding mothers. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or beyond. However, there are many challenges, such as low breast milk levels or having to return to work, that may prevent many mothers from doing so. Baby formula is also designed to offer necessary nutrients to the baby.
For more information on breastfeeding visit the US Department of health and Human Services website.
TV actress Suzanne Somers has penned four diet books, but none was as controversial as the one on how to cure cancer or the one on anti-aging. The 2009 book “Knockout: Interviews With Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer and How To Prevent Getting It in the First Place’’ recommends against chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, and instead focus on supplements to prevent and treat any form of cancer.
Her other controversial book, “Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones,’’ encourages readers to opt for natural hormones instead of synthetic ones commonly used in hormone replacement therapy.
While research suggests that maintaining proper nutrition is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is not considered a replacement for known medical treatments for cancer that include chemotherapy and surgery.
As for bioidentical hormones, many experts say it is not the natural alternative that Somers has touted in her book.
“The idea that bioidenticals are ‘natural’ because they are what the body makes is really a fallacy because exposing a woman’s body to hormones after she has stopped making them is a pharmacologic intervention no matter how you slice it and needs to be monitored appropriately,’’ Dr. Sharon Diamond, an OBGYN practicint in New York City, told Women’s Day.
To learn more about bioidentical hormones, visit the Harvard Health Publications website.
For years, actress Gwyneth Paltrow has touted the benefits of cupping, a traditional Chinese medicine therapy where warm glass cups are placed over the skin to help relieve stress and pains. Cupping leaves purplish swollen marks on the skin, which usually heal after several days. The practice is slightly painful and may even cause burns. Paltrow has been spotted with red blotches on her back as a result of the procedure.
A review of studies published in February 2012 that looked at cupping found the jury is still out on whether cupping could be beneficial to treat pain conditions, shortness of breath, cough, and even herpes, as some claims suggest.
To learn more about cupping, visit the American Cancer Society’s website.
On a 2008 trip to Austria, actress Demi Moore partook in a procedure in which “highly trained medical leeches’’ were used to detoxify her blood.
Leeching was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2004 for use as a medical device since leeches have been proven effective in reattachment microsurgery. Leeches drain excess blood from limbs where veins have not fully fused. However, it has been used experimentally to treat other medical conditions such as arthritis.
While leech therapy was proven in ancient times to help with the reattachment of body parts, the benefits of the practice is not so clear when it comes to cosmetic enhancement. In fact, some medical experts warn against contact with leeches since they are actually parasites that carry some forms of bacteria and can cause infections when they puncture human skin.
In 2005, actor Tom Cruise said he was disappointed to hear that actress Brooke Sheilds was taking antidepressant medication to treat her postpartum depression.
In an interview with the TV show Access Hollywood: “When you talk about postpartum, you can take people today, women, and what you do is you use vitamins. There is a hormonal thing that is going on, scientifically, you can prove that. But when you talk about emotional, chemical imbalances in people, there is no science behind that.’’
“You can use vitamins to help a woman through those things.’’
Cruises belief in Scientology, which prohibits the use of pharmacological intervention, led him to make these statements.
His argumentative interview on the “Today Show’’ with anchor Matt Lauer further heightened the controversy.
About one out of eight women has postpartum depression after giving birth, according to the March of Dimes. And in some cases postpartum depression is due to a hormonal imbalance in the body after birth. During pregnancy, your body has higher levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. But immediately after giving birth, these hormones drop back to their normal levels. Thyroid levels also drop. The rapid decrease of hormones may lead to depression.
To learn more about postpartum depression, visit the March of Dimes website.