Cancer, Health Communication, Health Promotion, In the News, Lifestyle, Mass Media, Reproductive Health, Women's Health

“The Angelina Effect”

In this day of age celebrities dominate our world. They hold elected office, they are activists, they are social media entrepreneurs, they are everywhere. Whether we like to believe it or not they have influence over our behaviors and how we make decisions. I’m guilty that most of the accounts I follow on Instagram are former Bachelor contestants and catch myself wanting to mimic their fashion and fitness routines. In fact, there has been research that has examined this phenomenon. Back in 2013, esteemed actress Angelina Jolie announced that she carries the a genetic mutation that greatly increases your risk of breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA1). In her New York Times opt ed piece, Jolie reveals that she lost her mom, aunt and grandmother to cancer and that influence her decision to undergo preventive surgery to remove both of her breasts (mastectomy) and ovaries. After this announcement, several researchers explored what came to be known as “The Angelina Effect” and how her decision influenced other women’s decisions about their own health. In a study published in Health Services Research journal, hospital data from both New York and the UK revealed that three months after Jolie’s announcement there was a significant increase in preventive mastectomies prior to the announcement. This trend has been seen with other celebrities after announcements of diagnoses and provides incentives for both public figures and healthcare providers to use these instances as teachable moments and bring awareness to employ preventive healthcare.

To learn more about the BRCA1 gene visit the following site: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/brca-fact-sheet#q1

 

 

 

  • Laurie Hursting

    This also makes me think of the dangerous flip-side to celebrities having such a large platform to spread health information, especially when they don’t always communicate the best health advice. It definitely can be utilized for positive prevention, but the advice of public health professionals when in contrast to celebrity decisions/views may not have a leg to stand on in terms of the public listening to them compared to a pedestaled celeb! Very hard to regulate info spread by celebs I have observed

  • Josh Boegner

    I think it is so important to understand the impact that celebrities can have when it comes to sharing and disseminating health information. Thank you for sharing this study on the Angelina effect, and hopefully more research will continue to be done in this realm.n