NationalOpinion

Goop is emblematic of growing pseudo-health movements

Goop may be coming to Canada, but pseudoscience medicine is already here

Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s “wellness” company, has recently announced its move into Canada. Goop sells an array of products ranging from jade eggs (vaginal eggs) to detox guides and coffee enema equipment.

Goop’s products target women who are seeking natural solutions to their chronic health problems.  

It’s well documented that women have been ignored in medical research compared to men. Women are also less likely than men to get the treatment they need. For example, a study of these gender discrepancies found that compared to men, women are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed and subsequently discharged in the middle of having a heart attack. Goop is capitalizing on these discrepancies not by filling the gap, but instead by selling quackery in order to make a buck. Goop has created an empire out of this health pseudoscience.

Jadestone eggs sold by Goop promised to cleanse, balance menstrual cycles, and “intensify feminine energy.” Essentially you just shove a magic (read: expensive) stone up your vagina for a couple of hours. The claims were fraudulent and a lawsuit required refunds to be issued and Goop can no longer make such claims — but they still sell the eggs. Vaginal steaming recommended by Goop has been criticized for increased risk of yeast infections.

It’s sad that Goop and similar companies are capitalizing on women’s need for health improvement by selling products that just make their health worse.

Not only are Goop’s products potentially dangerous, but the attitude that self-help medicine is somehow safer than western medicine is as well. The move of Goop into Canada is only a symptom of growing pseudoscience health movements. These movements are often spearheaded by celebrities, making them influential even though their advice is precarious. Famously, Jenny McCarthy has claimed that vaccines cause autism, a claim which has been completely debunked. British Columbia is already known for their large homeopathic medicine movements.

Measles cases are on the rise and it’s in part due to people thinking they know better than doctors because a Playboy bunny said so. Where doctors typically seek to make a patient well, Goop seeks only to sell you more and more false solutions.

Goop’s growth in popularity has provoked widespread criticism from health professionals. Recently, many doctors have publicly condemned Goop’s products and advice, the most outspoken being Dr. Jen Gunter. Gunter has systematically criticized Goop products and provides some clarifying facts in the gooey “wellness” sphere. Timothy Caulfield, the research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta has released a book titled Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash. The title alone is a very succinct explanation of the situation. In the book, Caulfield stresses that little is being done to debunk messages about health put forward by celebrities.

Health Canada needs to crack down on the dishonest claims made by Goop and make clear distinctions between claims which are scientifically supported and those which aren’t.

Until then, please keep your eggs in your omelette.

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