Women rock, Gwyneth doesn’t: Paltrow pushes debunked breast cancer myth

Some women spend their time playing other people in front of cameras and offering lifestyle advice. Some women work in public health. Some play ice hockey, some are French professors.

girls.hockey.brisbaneFrom the annals of bad health advice, actress Gwyneth Paltrow is under fire for a post on her website GOOP by Dr. Habib Sadeghi with the inflammatory title “Could There Possibly Be a Link Between Underwire Bras and Breast Cancer??” The research discussed in the article has been widely discredited, including by the American Cancer Society.

A 2014 study in which 1,044 women ages 55 to 74 were interviewed about their bra wearing, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (also known as Fred Hutch) found absolutely no link between bras and breast cancer. Specifically, Lu Chen, a researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch, said in an article on the center’s website (one that’s cited in a footnote of the GOOP article), “Our study found no evidence that wearing a bra increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer. The risk was similar no matter how many hours per day women wore a bra, whether they wore a bra with underwire, or at what age they began wearing a bra.”

disease.detectiveDiane Mapes, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and underwent chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy (what she calls “the full monty”), is a public health writer for FredHutch.org and also blogs about her breast cancer experience at DoubleWhammied.com. She told Salon, “If you get your advice from Gwyneth Paltrow, you’re probably not serving yourself particularly well. If people want public health advice, there’s a lot of other sites where they can go to get it.”

Girls rock. Women rock. People rock. Gwyneth doesn’t.

Spot the Mistake and Food Network threats

A public health type asked me yesterday, what ever happened to those videos you made in 2002 that Food Network Canada made you take down, after showing them at a talk in Prince Edward Island, perhaps prompted by a Charlottetown Chinese food restaurant that was warned for unsanitary conditions in its washrooms and food premises.

celebrity_chefs4Since Amy hadn’t heard the story, here it is.

In 2004, my laboratory reported that, based on 60 hours of detailed viewing of television cooking shows, an unsafe food handling practice occurred about every four minutes, and that for every safe food handling practice observed, we observed 13 unsafe practices. The most common errors were inadequate hand washing and cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods.

The abstract is below.

After completing the initial research in 2002, I began writing about the topic, with snappy headlines like, Can TV cooks become food safety celebrities? One of my students at the time, Christian Battista, put together four, 3-minute greatest hits videos, depicting various practices we observed like cross-contamination and lack of handwashing. The videos were a hit.

Once the paper was published, it made headlines around the globe. Some folks at the Food Network in Canada gave me a call, and said they wanted to work with me and my lab, to enhance food safety on their shows.

I said sure.

I also kept showing the videos at my various public appearances.

And then the Food Network called again.

This time the folks at the other end were on a speakerphone — and there was a lot of them. Lawyers, I suspect.

The Food Network people said if I ever showed the videos again they would sue my ass.

But YouTube didn’t exist back then. And I’m in Australia now. Hmmm ….

 Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely. During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria established by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.