The Jolie Effect: Studies Say Celebrities Can Influence People’s Medical Decisions


Celebrities hold such great power over the people. Every single thing they say, every single thing that they wear, every single thing that does, every single choice that they make, matters. They are just people like us but why does it seem like we are all interested in their lives that some decisions that they make actually affect us in a way as well. Why do companies hire celebrities to advertise their product? Even during elections where they endorse politicians.

According to Mark Harvey’s book entitled, Celebrity Influence: Politics, Persuasion and Issue-Based Advocacy, celebrities actually have the power to influence people’s decisions because of the admirable qualities that they show, whether they use their talents in singing, acting, or dancing, they are truly admired by people which are the reasons why they are famous in the first place. If these celebrities don’t have fans, they wouldn’t get hired to do another project no matter how talented they may be.

Angelina Jolie revealed that she underwent a bilateral mastectomy

Celebrities just don’t influence people’s choice of clothes, food, hobbies, but they also influence people’s medical choices. More and more celebrities are going public with their health conditions, such as Lady Gaga, who revealed that she is suffering from fibromyalgia, which is a severe chronic pain in certain parts of the body. Gaga influenced her fans by telling her struggles into a Netflix original movie entitled. Five Foot Too. Selena Gomez also revealed that she is suffering from lupus and recently just had kidney surgery. But the most influential one of all is when Academy award-winning actress, Angelina Jolie revealed that she underwent a bilateral mastectomy when she found out that she had a genetic predisposition for developing breast cancer.


It was back in 2013 when Jolie revealed this to the public, but then again, medical professionals were surprised by how this actually influenced many women. A new study specifically cited Jolie’s choice to undergo a preventive double mastectomy or also known as a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, after she found out that she is at risk of developing breast cancer because of her genetic predisposition. Researchers actually gathered data from two different places on each side of the globe, New South Wales in Australia, and New York in the United States. They have discovered that the rate of risk-reducing mastectomies actually spiked just a couple of weeks after Jolie publicly announced that she indeed underwent the said procedure. According to one of the authors of the paper and a professor of healthcare policy and cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, “There was about a 50 percent increase of RRM’s between 2013 to 2014.”

In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S.

This is around the time when Jolie announced hers. The number of women who got a genetic testing that Jolie took to find out about her faulty gene, also increased. However, there is actually a downside about this study even if it seems as if it is pushing women to get themselves checked. According to Michael S. Sabel, the chief surgical oncology and break cancer surgeon at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, “When a celebrity talks about having a bilateral mastectomy, it’s an emotional story and coverage tends to be biased towards the ideas that a bilateral mastectomy is the right choice for everyone,” he explained.

He also said that it is definitely not for everyone, it may be the right choice and reduces about 95 percent risk, it still does not guarantee that every last defective cell is going to be removed. “A small amount of tissue needs to be left under the skin to prove blood supply to the skin. So, the chances are very low but not zero. If you had cancer, the cancer is still potentially in the body, and cancer can still return to another part of your body.”


Celebrities of course just want to inspire people and influence their fans in a good way especially when it comes to health matters, however, they are still not doctors or medical professionals to say something that might actually be accurate. Jolie said during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, that the procedure that was done to her would give her zero chances of having breast cancer. People would then think that if they try to do it as well, they wouldn’t be at risk especially if they have a history of cancer. But Dr. Sabel said this is definitely not true. It is always ideal to get yourself checked regularly instead of just doing whatever your favorite celebrity is doing.

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