Saturday, December 15th, 2018

A Doctor Weighs In On Paula Deen

Published on January 24, 2012 by   ·   6 Comments Pin It

The year before he died of lung cancer, actor Yul Brynner taped a commercial for the American Cancer Society. “Now that I’m gone,” he pleaded into the camera, “I tell you: Don’t smoke, whatever you do, just don’t smoke.” He didn’t want anyone else to end up like him.

Celebrity chef Paula Deen, known for using doughnuts to bun her bacon-and-egg burgers, could have used her diabetes diagnosis in the same way, in hopes that others wouldn’t make the same mistakes. Instead, she announced yesterday, she is partnering “with a reputable pharmaceutical company” as spokesperson for a $500-a-month diabetes drug (with side-effects that may include pancreatitis and thyroid cancer). Instead of withdrawing her endorsements for Smithfield ham and Philadelphia cream cheese, Paula Deen just added another to the list. It would be as if Yul Brynner’s last breaths were instead spent hawking chemo.
Paul Deen riding butter

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic amputations, and new cases of blindness. Currently it’s the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. The good news Paula could have given to the millions of diabetics and prediabetics is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented, managed, treated, and even cured with a plant-based diet. A prospective study of nearly 20,000 vegetarians and vegans published recently found that even after controlling for obesity (and exercise, age, gender, education, income, television watching, sleep, alcohol use, and smoking), those that ate plant-based diets had just a fraction of the diabetes risk. See How to Prevent Diabetes, How to Treat Diabetes, and my other 20 videos on diabetes. Good books on the subject include Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes and Defeating Diabetes.

When the “The Galloping Gourmet” chef Graham Kerr’s wife and childhood sweetheart suffered a stroke, he changed his tune and became a champion for healthier cooking. It is too bad Paula Deen missed this opportunity to embrace healthier Southern traditions, like collard greens and black eyed peas, and instead just chose to add a pharmaceutical side-dish to her deep-fried butter balls.

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues.  He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, and was invited as an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the infamous “meat defamation” trial. He is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at

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Readers Comments (6)

  1. Barb says:

    It’s sad. It appears that Ms. Deen loves money more than she loves her life.

  2. VeggieTart says:

    She also hid her diagnosis for three years–probably until she could work out her pharma deal. That’s her decision, but she’d be less reviled if she used her diagnosis to make a change and find a way to make indulgent foods a little less unhealthy.

  3. Erika says:

    To each there own.IMHO….when I read several different articles from reputable publications that Paula Deen is teaming up with a big pharma that was when I said,OK ….about the dinero. Most big pharma will do ANYthing for the money.Lie,spy,sell there souls to the devil .GREED. Can’t bring the BENjamins
    with you when it’s your time to go.
    One thing to make $$$$ ,another ball game
    when it comes to most big pharmas.
    Many Paula Deen fans have been commenting on various websites that she did not have to reveal her health issues.That she has,a,show on cooking ,not teaching health or healthy cooking.That anyone with half a brain knows most of what she cooks on her show is not healthy. She does say,everyyhing in moderation. I personally am have watched a handful of her shows over the last two years.Did not keep me intetested.
    My wish for her is discover a healthier path of life and hopefully come to realize she could encourage others in much better ways than working with a big pharma that is not have the best interest of the people.Most….drug pushers.

  4. Susan says:

    As the saying goes: You can lead a horse to water…

    I went vegan 1 year and 1 month ago and I have never felt better. Prior to, I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian. The thought of eating animal products, especially dairy, makes me cringe.

    Clearly Paula doesn’t give a rat’s fuzzy about her health — she’s taking the easy route: drugs. I liken it to: if I have a splinter in my finger, would I take Motrin to kill the pain or remove the splinter? Dugh! Stupid analgy I realize but you get my point. You would think she would take charge of her health. I mean, who wants to take a pill or pills every single day? I take vitamins but if I forget a day, it’s not like it is going to kill me. Maybe she’ll wake up when she has her first heart attack.


  5. Martin Matej says:

    I wish she will do something better for her health..

  6. Shannon says:

    pathetic. that’s seriously disappointing to hear this, on so many levels. diabetes has affected several people on all sides of my family (and friends), including my grandmother who just passed. so … just throw another pill at it, paula? brilliant. :/

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