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NHS Chief Simon Stevens: Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop poses "considerable risks to health"

Published on 31/01/20 at 12:59pm
Image Credit: George Biard

NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens has gone head-to-head with Hollywood actor and “wellness guru” Gwyneth Paltrow, taking aim at her wellness empire Goop in a speech at an event in Oxford.

The health service’s top man warned against the “considerable risks to health” posed by the often unregulated and unproven health products marketed by Goop. He condemned celebrities and other figures like Paltrow peddling these “too good to be true” health cures, denouncing them as “snake oil salesmen”.

"While the term 'fake news' makes most people think about politics, people's natural concern for their health, and particularly about that of their loved ones, makes this particularly fertile ground for quacks, charlatans, and cranks,” Stevens stated. "While fake news used to travel by word of mouth - and later the Caxton press - we all know that lies and misinformation can now be round the world at the touch of a button - before the truth has reached for its socks, never mind got its boots on.

"Myths and misinformation have been put on steroids by the availability of misleading claims online,” he added.

His criticism is particularly significant as the wellness company recently launched a television show, The Goop Lab, on Netflix, hugely expanding its reach to consumers. This has prompted fears from groups who see a parallel with the rise of vaccine misinformation and its correlation with falling vaccination rates, leading to a revocation of the UK’s measles elimination status last year alogn with rising incidence rates around the world.

“Fresh from controversies over jade eggs and unusually scented candles, Goop has just popped up with a new TV series, in which Gwyneth Paltrow and her team test vampire facials and back a “bodyworker” who claims to cure both acute psychological trauma and side-effects by simply moving his hands two inches above a customer’s body,” Stevens explained.  "Gwyneth Paltrow's brand peddles 'psychic vampire repellent'; says 'chemical sunscreen is a bad idea'; and promotes colonic irrigation and DIY coffee enema machines, despite them carrying considerable risks to health and NHS advice clearly stating there is ‘no scientific evidence to suggest there are any health benefits associated with colonic irrigation.’"

Goop didn’t take kindly to the criticism, and responded with a statement defending its vetting process for the efficacy and safety of the products it advocates: “Goop takes efficacy and product claims very seriously. With the editorial and commercial aspects of our business, we sometimes approach different topics from different points of view. On the editorial, we are transparent when we cover emerging topics that may be unsupported by science or may be in early stages of review.

“When products are available for retail sale, we have a robust legal and compliance team that works closely with our science and research group to vet product claims. We are proud of our procedures and internal protocols and we are constantly evolving to ensure our approach is best in class.

“We applaud the work that NHS does, and often taker our cures from the UK standard. For example, in the case of chemical sunscreens that the NHS cited in their speech, the US bans only 11 personal care ingredients while over 1,000 are banned in the UK. It’s for that reason recommend non-toxic sunscreens.”

Matt Fellows

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