Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oprah Winfrey Gets Heat for Crackpot Medical Advice

Oprah Winfrey has command of more than 40 million viewers each week, some so devoted they follow her every word without question.  A recent investigative report in Newsweek magazine questions her message, though, asking if the “Oprah Effect” produces more harm than good.

At issue is the medical advice dispensed by the show.  Critics, like Cynthia Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, says the experts and specialists on the Oprah show don’t always bring forth the risks associated with the cures and therapies they tout, especially when it’s a celebrity, not a physician, presenting the information.  Given Oprah’s phenomenal influence, many viewers, mostly women, follow her advice blindly, even in the absence of enough objective data to make a choice that’s both safe and effective.  Syracuse University professor of television and pop culture, Robert Thompson, says the show gives validity to a number of health claims that many people would otherwise consider really “crackpot ideas.”


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