Suzanne Somers has reinvented herself as a health and fitness guru after rocketing to stardom as a 1970s sex kitten. But some health experts are concerned that she's dishing diet, workout, and anti-aging advice that could be harmful to women.
"Somers' lack of scientific knowledge should give women reason to forgo her advice," health and science writer Christopher Wanjek wrote in an Oct. 28 LiveScience column.
In recent years, with the promotional help of Oprah and the like, she has positioned herself as a women's health advocate and anti-aging expert. Rarely highlighted, however, is the fact that nearly every sentence Somers says about health is incorrect — woefully and dangerously incorrect."
Wanjek specifically takes issue with a hormone therapy treatment Somers shills to middle-aged women that scientific research has shown to increase the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and heart attacks.
Dr. Nanette Santoro, a professor of ob/gyn and medicine at the University of Colorado, agreed with Wanjek that Somers' recommended hormone therapy could be dangerous.
In her media interviews and best-selling health books, Suzanne said she follows a "food-combining" diet that dictates that certain foods should never to eaten together, while other foods always should be.
"Eat fruits alone on an empty stomach," she wrote. "Eat proteins and fats with vegetables and without carbohydrates; eat carbohydrates with vegetables and without fat."
Somers said she stays in shape by using the ThighMaster, a plastic exercise equipment that she claims tones the inner and outer thighs, even though there's no way to get a cardio or strength-training workout from it.
Suzanne also posits that women can delay the onset of menopause and ward off mid-life cancer by having sex (which she claims she has twice a day with her 77-year-old husband!) and thinking youthful thoughts.
"When the brain perceives you are no longer reproductive because your hormones are out of balance, it tries to get rid of you," she said. "And it usually activates the cancers in perimenopause."
Finally, Wanjek points out that while Somers says she looks young because of "all-natural" supplements (which she peddles on home-shopping networks), in reality, her somewhat youthful appearance is due mainly to Botox and other cosmetic procedures.
Part of the reason why Somers looks at least marginally younger than some others at age 67 is likely the combination of hair dye (presumably natural dyes), Botox (among the most toxic, natural substances known), collagen fillers (yes, natural), and, quite possibly, according to plastic surgeon and blogger Tony Youn, a stem-cell face-lift, explaining her puffy lower face.
This is the state of science and health information on television talk shows."
Somers has responded to the criticism by saying she gets picked on because she advocates alternative health care over prescription drugs.