It's natural to take celebrity endorsements with a grain of salt. Why are they doing this? Are they sincere or is this just an image boost?
And then there's Angelina Jolie.
The award-winning actress revealed shocking personal news through an op-ed piece Tuesday in the New York Times.
Jolie has undergone a double mastectomy after learning she had a gene that made her highly susceptible to breast cancer.
"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy," Jolie wrote. "But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 per cent to under 5 per cent. I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."
The actress described the whole experience in Technicolor. Her goal, she said, was to encourage other women who may be facing the same choice - or who may not yet know they are at risk.
"For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices."
Jolie's revelation raises a couple of key issues. First, she addresses the overwhelming burden women go through facing breast surgery. For most, it can seem like a neutering, an attack on their sexual identity, which can lead to serious depression.
"On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman," Jolie assures. "I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."
More importantly, though, her news puts a high-profile face on a relatively new phenomenon stemming from modern genetics: preventive surgery.
It's hard enough to convince people they need to undergo radical surgery in order to remove tumours. It's another to convince them before they even have cancer.
It's particularly relevant in Newfoundland, which has the highest rate of mastectomy in the country.
And breast cancer is not the only risk.
Last November, members of the Ennis family in Newfoundland gathered in Mount Pearl to celebrate their decision to have their stomachs removed to lower their cancer risk.
The Ennises are among only 100 families worldwide who've been found to carry a mutation of a gene called CDH1. Since 2005, at least 40 members of the Ennis line have had the surgery.
Meanwhile, even celebrities understand the importance of family. Like anyone facing a medical crisis, Jolie found strength in her husband and children.
"Brad (Pitt) was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has."