How Celebrities Influence Your Health

It’s the resolution-making time of year, and many of us are falling back on the traditional favorites. The most popular resolution people make is to lose weight. However, we may see a spike in women resolving to have genetic testing done to determine risk of breast cancer. Why? Because Angelina Jolie did it first.

A study was recently published in Preventive Medicine in which researchers from San Diego State University, the Santa Fe Institute, the University of North Carolina and the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that celebrities publically discussing their cancer diagnosis can have a profound effect on the general public.

Specifically, this study focused on celebrity cancer diagnosis and people who smoke. The study found that the media coverage that results from a celebrity cancer diagnosis prompts more people to look up information on how to quit.

Though New Year’s Day and World No Tobacco Day are popular times for smoking cessation research, it’s celebrities who drive the most people to stop smoking.

The study looked at former Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s case. He was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in October 2011 and attributed his cancer to a long-time smoking habit.

By looking through Google News archives, the research team behind the study found news coverage of quitting smoking increased by at least 500 percent after the diagnosis was revealed. Google searches related to quitting smoking also increased, by 67 percent.

“Lula’s announced cancer diagnosis, though tragic, was potentially the greatest smoking cessation-promoting even in Brazilian history,” said professor John W. Ayers, leader of the researchers.

“Interest in quitting smoking, as indicated by Google searches, reached its highest recorded level after Lula’s diagnosis, even when compared to traditional cessation awareness events such as New Year’s Day or World No Tobacco Day.”

Though the study takes place on a limited scale, it has promising implications for positive celebrity emphasis. Another member of the research team, Seth Noar, said, “This study is the first to demonstrate that celebrity diagnoses can prompt the public to engage in behaviors that prevent cancer.”

That much was demonstrated earlier this year Angelina Jolie revealed she had undergone preventative testing to determine her breast cancer risk. After her announcement in May, there was a significant rise in the number of women requesting genetic testing for breast cancer markers.

Though celebrity cancer announcements are tragic, they can bring about positive change. That’s something we don’t have to wait for the beginning of a new year to make happen.


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Magdalena J.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you!

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B.2 years ago

How shocking it seems when we see the hero/heroine smoking in old films. I wonder how many people took the habit up because a glamorous actor did so.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B.2 years ago

It seems to me that a lot of people (not us of course) think of slebs as people they know friends even, so of course they're going to be interested in what they say and do. That's what publicity is for.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Donna Ferguson
Donna F.2 years ago

I have asthma--when I was little, people in my family smoked in front of me. I HATE to see smoking in the media!!!!!

Aleisha D.
Aleisha D.2 years ago

thanks for posting

Lynn C.
Lynn C.2 years ago


Lynn C.
Lynn C.2 years ago


John B.
John B.2 years ago

Thanks Brandi for the article.

Sandra A.
Sandra A.2 years ago

Celebrities are paid to act out.