In a bold move, TV personality Katie Couric underwent a colonoscopy on live television on the Today show in 2000. She opted to make her procedure public in order to encourage more people to get colonoscopy screenings after her husband died of colon cancer at age 42.
Colonoscopies are seriously uncomfortable, but they can cut cancer risk in half. A 2003 study looked at the “Katie Couric effect” on colon cancer screening by comparing colonoscopy rates before and after her March 2000 show. The researchers found that colonoscopy rates went up about 20% nationwide after Couric’s public exam, and the authors concluded “a celebrity spokesperson can have a substantial impact on public participation in preventive care programs.”