Letters to the Editor  |   March 2013
Doctors Need Hollywood
Author Affiliations
  • Adam Bitterman, DO
    North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Plainview Hospital, New York
    Orthopedic surgery resident
Article Information
Cardiovascular Disorders / Endocrinology / Medical Education / Hypertension/Kidney Disease / Neuromusculoskeletal Disorders / Preventive Medicine / Sports Medicine / Diabetes
Letters to the Editor   |   March 2013
Doctors Need Hollywood
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2013, Vol. 113, 201-202. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2013.113.3.201
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2013, Vol. 113, 201-202. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2013.113.3.201
Web of Science® Times Cited: 66
To the Editor: 
Celebrity sells. US Weekly and People fly off the shelves with the latest celebrity gossip and reality star drama, with print circulations of nearly 2 million and 3.5 million, respectively.1,2 Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of magazines filled with the latest news on the diseases running rampant in today's society. Is there a solution to making such diseases a bigger part of our conversations? I would like to say yes, to some degree, but the answer remains to be seen. After my 4 years of undergraduate work and 4 more years of osteopathic medical school, I am confident that there are myriad professionals in the medical field dedicated and committed to finding cures for these diseases. The problem comes when these investigators ask for dollars to fund their research. 
Why not use celebrity status? Hollywood has the power to sell a product or idea. Give Kim Kardashian a product and I am nearly positive it will sell. Whether it is a cleaning substance, food chopper, or piece of jewelry, those who put their faces on television and the silver screen have an innate ability to get the general population to take an action. These celebrities, whether talented actors or reality television stars, are gifted with talents that allow them access to households across the globe and outlets that members of society cannot hide from. 
Why not put these gifts to use for the greater good? We need celebrities to advocate for funding and finding cures for these diseases. Just think of how much coverage Stand Up to Cancer has gotten over the past several years through celebrity telecast events such as the one held this past September with prominent celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Justin Timberlake.3 Consider also the National Football League's A Crucial Catch campaign, which aims to increase awareness of the importance of annual breast cancer screening through pink apparel, ribbons, and other programs every October.4 A single celebrity can make a big difference, too—for example, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research funded $57 million in research for Parkinson disease in 2011 alone.5 
So yes, nobody really cares that your average Joe has diabetes mellitus, cancer, heart failure, or polycystic kidney disease, but if a celebrity talks about it, especially if he or she has the disease, I am sure the attention would change. Media outlets would cover it, and people would care. People would become interested in helping out and funding would increase. 
I ask you, Hollywood and sports celebrities, for your courage in stepping forward and helping us get the help we need to pay it forward to our patients. One small act could have a big impact on someone's life. Borrowing a line from one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, he will come.” I truly believe that if celebrities talk about it, more funding and support will follow. 
US Weekly rate card. US Weekly website. Accessed February 7, 2013.
People 2012 rate card. People website. Updated August 10 , 2012. Accessed February 7, 2013
Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Justin Timberlake, Sofia Vergara & Others Join the SU2C Telecast [press release]! Stand Up to Cancer; September 5 , 2012. Accessed February 7, 2012.
About A Crucial Catch. National Football League website. Accessed February 11, 2013.
Annual Report 2011: Progress. New York, NY: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research; August 23 , 2012. Accessed February 11, 2013.