There’s nothing inherently wrong with taking selfies. In fact, as Dr. Oz has pointed out, sometimes they’re downright diagnostic. If you or a friend notices that you have yellowed eyes, you could uncover hepatitis or another liver disease, and seeing yellowish spots on your eyelids, called xanthelasma, can alert you to fat deposits that can indicate a risk for heart disease. But selfies can be health hazards, too!
From 2011 to 2017 over 250 people worldwide died while taking a selfie. According to a San Francisco research firm, the average age of victims was 22; 75% were male.
People have fallen off buildings and cliffs, drowned in rivers, been hit by trains and been electrocuted; one Russian was even mauled by a wounded bear. Selfies can harm other folks, too: In the U.S. a 2015 survey found that 4% of drivers admit to taking selfies while driving!
Some places have had to legislate against selfies: In Mumbai there are 16 “no selfie zones,” and the BBC reports that Russia started a “Safe Selfie” campaign with the catchphrase “Even a million ‘likes’ on social media are not worth your life and well-being.”
So let’s stick with selfies that are safe and delightful. Did you know there are a lot of online breastfeeding selfies, called brelfies (on Instagram at #brelfies)? No one’s going to get hurt doing that — as long as you don’t drop the phone on the baby.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.