Kourtney Kardashian Was Slammed for Sharing a Conspiracy Theory About Masks Causing Cancer

Kourtney Kardashian was condemned by social media users for spreading the conspiracy theory that blue surgical masks cause cancer (spoiler: they don't).

today pictured kourtney kardashian on thursday, february 7, 2019 photo by nathan congletonnbcu photo banknbcuniversal via getty images via getty images
(Image credit: NBC)

In the midst of a global pandemic, spreading false conspiracy theories about face masks to your 102 million Instagram followers probably isn't the best use of your platform—and yet Kourtney Kardashian went and did it all the same. Kardashian was slammed for sharing a post on her Instagram Story claiming that blue surgical masks cause cancer, a conspiracy theory medical experts quickly debunked.

Kardashian shared an image without attribution reading, "Those Blue Masks mandated at grocery stores & airplanes are made of PTFE, a carcinogen made from synthetic fluoride. According to Cancer.Org it increases the risk of liver, testicle, pancreas, kidney & breast tumors + ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, preeclampsia and high cholesterol. High exposure can cause influenza-like symptoms and hemorrhaging in the lungs, leading to suffocation." She posted the image on her Instagram story with a shocked emoji and an exploding head emoji, the New York Post reports.

Cancer.org, cited as the source for the claim, is the website of the American Cancer Society (ACS). Dr. William Cance, chief medical and scientific officer for the ACS, told the New York Post, "There is no evidence to support the claim that the presence of PTFE in a mask causes cancer." Dr. Cance continued, "As a surgical oncologist, I, along with thousands of colleagues in the health-care profession, have been wearing masks for years to protect patients from the spread of infections."

Multiple social media users condemned Kardashian for spreading false conspiracy theories about surgical masks. "@kourtneykardash it is highly irresponsible of you to post this kind of content knowing the size of your platform, especially in this era where misinformation spreads like wildfire and there is already a problem with mask-adherence and a huge doubt in actual science," one person tweeted. Another wrote, "It's one thing for random people on social media to claim that masks cause cancer...it's another for @kourtneykardash to be doing so on her Instagram stories to >100 million followers."


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Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.