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Celebrity illnesses raise awareness but can give wrong message

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 04 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1099
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

    When a celebrity develops a disease, public awareness of the disorder usually increases dramatically, a US seminar heard last week. But the campaigns that spring up in the wake of the publicity sometimes mislead the public about what can or should be done to prevent it.

    The first celebrity to speak out was Betty Ford, wife of president Gerald Ford, who did a great deal to raise awareness of breast cancer in 1974, Dr Barron Lerner of Columbia University told the meeting. Detection rates rose immediately in a phenomenon that became known as the …

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