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2010 Celebrities and Science Review Image

2010 Celebrities and Science Review

Each year at Sense About Science we review the odd science claims people in the public eye have made - about diets, cancer, magnets, radiation and more - sent in to us by scientists and members of the public. Many of these claims promote theories, therapies and campaigns that make no scientific sense. We ask scientists to respond, to help the celebrities realise where they are going wrong and to help the public to make sense of celebrity claims.

Download the review here

See coverage from our 2010 review

What’s new in the 2010 review?

  • This year, we have seen the biggest rise in dubious theories about how the body works,  such as singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, saying that she takes digestive enzymes and plant tonics to boost her immune system. Other unusual ideas about boosting our bodily functions have prompted strange diets, from Naomi Campbell’s maple syrup, lemon and pepper regime to Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding sprinkling charcoal over her meals.
  • In sport and fitness, cage fighter Alex Reid shared his tips for preparing for a fight (he ‘reabsorbs’ his sperm). David Beckham and Kate Middleton have been spotted wearing a hologram-embedded silicone bracelet which claims to improve energy and fitness. And Cheryl Cole reputedly extolled a weight loss regime based on her blood group.
  • In health and disease, celebrity views about the causes of cancer retained the improvement seen in 2009, but actress Joanna Lumley and former Harrods owner Mohamed Fayed both get a mention this year.
  • And although we have noted far fewer claims about the benefits of ‘chemical free’ food this year, model Gisele Bundchen raised some old misconceptions as she joined the ‘breast is best’ baby feeding debate.
  • As always, the review notes people in the public eye who do make scientific sense. Reports of Jennifer Aniston’s ‘baby food diet’ caused some raised eyebrows, so dietitians were glad to see her deny rumours that she follows the pureed food regime. Jennifer said: “Sorry, but the last time I had baby food, I believe I was one. I’ve been on solids for about forty years now.”

To improve the outlook for 2011, we have distilled our scientists’ responses into easy-to-remember pointers for celebrity commentators.

Two old chestnuts:

  • Nothing is chemical free: everything is made of chemicals, it’s just a case of which ones.
  • Detox is a marketing myth: our body does it without pricey potions and detox diets.

Two new lessons from 2010:

  • There’s no need to boost: bodily functions occur without ‘boosting’.
  • Energy and fitness come from… food and exercise: there are no shortcuts.

“When people in the public eye give opinions about causes of disease, cures, diets, or products we should buy or avoid, that’s it. Their opinion goes worldwide in seconds. It gets public attention and appears in every related google search for months. So if it’s scientifically wrong, we’re stuck with the fall-out from that. We have thousands of scientists who are willing to look at claims about medicine and science. We’d like to see more celebrities checking out the science before they open their mouths and send the wrong thing viral.”

Lindsay Hogg, Assistant Director, Sense About Science


The Guardian, Celebrity endorsements that are science fiction trashed in annual list

The Scotsman, I’m a celebrity - don’t take what I say seriously

The Daily Mail, The stars’ quack remedies are junked by scientists: Cheryl Cole’s blood group diet and Naomi Campbell’s maple syrup regime slammed

The Independent, The stars who are bad for your health

The Telegraph, Scientists criticise celebrity ‘quack’ diets

The Times, ‘Bad science’ celebrities named and shamed (subscription required)

The Times, Our glib anecdotage is blinding us to science (subscription required)

Marie Claire, The celebrities who are bad for our health

The Metro, Cheryl Cole and Demi Moore diets dismissed as ‘bad science’

Reuters, ‘Science sense’ list trashes celebrity health tips

oneindia news, Scientists debunk celebs’ scientific claims 

The Irish Times, How could you eat that stuff?

The Irish Times, Medical experts issue health warning to challenge dubious remedies peddled by celebrity ‘scientists’

The Daily Star, celeb cures are a load of quack!

The Daily Mail, Will chewing on a lemon help you lose weight like Naomi Campbell - or leave a bitter taste? Expert verdicts on the diets celebs swear by

The Sydney Morning Herald, Celebrity snake oil does odd things to you when absorbed

International Business Times, Science and Non-sense Celebrity Claims

New York Daily News, Scientists debunk dubious celebrity-endorsed health tips from Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, others

Shanghai Daily, ‘Science sense’ list trashes celebrity health tips

The Himalayan Times, Scientists discredit celebrities’ health tips

Minneapolis Star Tribune , Scientists say celebs may not know what the heck they’re talking about

The Toronto Sun, ‘Science’ list trashes celebrity health tips

The Vancouver Sun, Hollyweird Science

The Vancouver Sun, Celebrity-endorsed health tips debunked by science group

The Australian, There’s one born every minute

CBC News, Celebrity health tips debunked

PJ online, Celebrities may be bad for your health

sify news, Scientists debunk celebs’ scientific claims

Top news, Scientists debunk celebs’ scientific claims

Daily Times, ‘Science sense’ list trashes celebrity health tips


BBC London, The Vanessa Feltz show (1 hour in)

Radio 5 Live, The Gabby Logan show (50 mins in)

BBC Wales, Something else (42 mins in)

Newstalk, Irish National Radio, Moncrieff Show (Friday 31st Dec, Part 2, 34 mins in)

BBC Cumbria, The Mike Parr Breakfast show (1 hour 22 mins in)

BBC Leeds, Martin Kelner and Katherine Hannah (1 hour 11 mins in)

BBC Leicester, The Ben Jackson Show (1 hour 32 mins in)

BBC Wales, Good Evening Wales (54 mins in)

BBC Essex, The Dave Monk Show (1 hour 40 mins in)

RTE, Radio 1 (40 mins in)

International coverage

Le Figaro, Gare aux conseils sante des stars

Lexpress, Les stars (aussi) se font avoir par des regimes bidon

Italehti, Nama julkkisten terveysuskomukset ovat taytta roskaa

La Stampa, Quando le star brillano per le stupidaggini e fanno male alla salute

O Globo, Grupo desmente dicas de saude feitas por celebridades

Tvn.24, Reabsorbcja nasienia i inne “naukowe” sposoby na forme

koktail.pravda, Vyzivne spermie aj naramky sily? Celebrity nas ucia pavedam

sify news, Scientists debunk celebs’ scientific claims

Der Standard, Spermasparen und Kohle als “Gewurz”

Now News, (chinese)

suite 101, Die sinnlosesten Gesundheitstipps der Promis

Author: Sense About Science

Document type: Celebrities and Science review

Published: 30 December 2010


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