Reading the Travolta and Swayze Tea Leaves

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As followers of this blog know, I do not make it a habit to link to my columns in the print or web media. But I will make an exception in this case. Last week, I wrote in this space about the tragic death of Jett Travolta.

As a Fox News contributor, I reported on this death as well as Patrick Swayze's cancer and pneumonia, just as I have reported on the illnesses of many other celebrities. I have been struck by how often the media distort these health reports, while spokespeople for the celebrity too often use exaggerations or fictions as a smokescreen to protect their client from media scrutiny. This might seem fair, except when you consider how many millions of us role-model our celebs, and even obsess on their health. When we are misinformed about our heroes' health, we end up mislearning medicine, and an opportunity to inform the public about important health issues that may pertain to them directly is lost.

I am proud of the way I - and my fellow medical journalists at Fox - from our wonderful health editor Dr. Manny to the Ashtons to Keith Ablow to Isadore Rosenfeld, read through the tea leaves as best we can and come up with our best interpretations. We are not these celebrities' doctors, which necessarily limits our take, and we don't always have all the facts, but we do the best we can.

Anyway, here is my take in this week's NY Post, click here.

Dr. Marc Siegel is an internist and associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. He is a FOX News medical contributor and writes a health column for LA Times, where he examines TV and movies for medical accuracy. Dr. Siegel is the author of "False Alarm: The Truth about the Epidemic of Fear"and "Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic." Read more at