"Celebrities have disproportionately loud voices," said Ellen Raphael, the U.K. director of Sense About Science, a charity organization that responds to what it believes are misrepresentations of science and medicine in society.
Around the world, celebrities dish about their beauty secrets and kooky cures: Actress Demi Moore believes leeches detoxify her blood; supermodel Cindy Crawford, "Black Eyed Peas" singer Fergie and actress Megan Fox all down vinegar shots, which they say help flush out fat. But the actual benefits of these practices are not clear and not supported by scientific research.
The list of suspected science offenders continues. Model and actress Carol Alt, who began a raw food diet after she was diagnosed with reproductive cancer, attributed the organic lifestyle to saving her life and giving her a camera-ready physique.
"At 47, I did Playboy without working out beforehand," Alt said in an interview with "Access Hollywood." "That's raw food. That's the difference!"
Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty believes soda "sap[s] oxygen from your body" and makes skin wrinkly. Roger Moore, a former James Bond actor, claims that eating foie gras could lead to Alzheimer's disease.
"We have no evidence to suggest that's the case," Raphael said.
As part of its annual review of what they say are misleading celebrity statements, Sense About Science warns against advice like Moore's, saying "nutrition is neither the cure nor cause of everything."
Sense About Science has asked celebrities and those in the public eye to "check the facts before going public" with their comments or endorsements on scientific matters.
"It does become a problem, because they've become new positions of authority for us in society," Raphael said. "We look to see what the people we respect say about things."
Once said, these claims can live on the Internet forever.
Comments made by actress Suzanne Somers of "Three's Company" and "Step by Step," in which she blamed Patrick Swayze's death from pancreatic cancer on his chemotherapy treatment, have lingered on the Internet from last year.
"They took a beautiful man," and "put poison in his body," Somers said. "Why couldn't they have built him up nutritionally and gotten rid of the toxins?"
Though Somers apologized, the comments live on, which Sense About Science says is dangerous.
"If somebody wants to Google, 'Should I have chemotherapy?' for example, they can get celebrity answers about why they shouldn't," Raphael said. "To us that's a problem. ... She's right; chemotherapy is a poison, that's what it's for, to kill the cancerous cells in your body, to give you a chance of recovery."
Sense about Science recommends a two-prong attack to squashing Internet rumors. First, there's a hotline for celebrities who can get the scientific research on something before they mouth off on what they don't really know much about. Second, whenever a celebrity opens his mouth, Raphael says the public must be cautious and ask the question: "What qualifications does this person have to be telling me this?"