Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Myth: Dr. Oz Can Be Trusted To Consistently Provide Reliable Information

It's been a while since I commented on the Dr. Oz show, but yesterday proved too much to bear.

On yesterday's Dr. Oz Show, the theme was how to lose weight and look good in a bathing suit. One of the schemes Dr. Oz put forth was to consume grapefruit juice mixed with apple cider vinegar three times a day before each meal because "it burns fat."

According to the Weight Control Information Network, operated by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, one of the National Institutes of Health,  it's simply not true. To quote:

"Myth: Certain foods, like grapefruit, celery, or cabbage soup, can burn fat and make you lose weight.

Fact: No foods can burn fat. Some foods with caffeine may speed up your metabolism (the way your body uses energy, or calories) for a short time, but they do not cause weight loss."

I know it's a free country and we can all say what we want, but give us a break. Why do we permit a licensed medical doctor to propagate nonsense to the masses that is wholly misleading and potentially dangerous? Why is there no outcry from the medical community regarding the endless stream of nonsense that pours out of this show, presented as science? People trust him because they don't know better, but a little investigation and research will show that many of the products he recommends have no reliable science to support them.

You may ask why do I even bother watching this science-fiction show presented as science? The reason is because Dr. Oz has emerged as one of the most respected public voices of health and wellness. His show is watched by many and he is ubiquitous; he is quoted across many media platforms from magazines to websites. He influences many with his words. People trust him and believe that the information he is providing is reliable and actionable. Accordingly, they buy the products he recommends because he is a trusted doctor. That's why I need to know what he is saying so I can counter the misinformation for my patients.

For example, on episodes that have aired over the past week or so, he recommended suma extract and astralagus for stress, griffonia simplicifolia as an appetite suppressant, and then 5-hydrotrptophan (5htp), which is also essentially griffonia simplicifolia, to be added to two baby aspirins every night for pain.

Ignoring the fact that none of these products have been clinically proven to be effective for the reasons he recommends and some haven't been proven to be effective for any valid medical use, it is irresponsible for him to recommend 2 aspirins every night as aspirin increases risk for bleeding and can cause ulcers. First, it should not bet taken without fluids at night because it can be corrosive to an empty stomach (he did not recommend any fluids), second, its long-term use should be carefully evaluated before taking due to its anticoagulant effects, and third and most importantly, if you are having pain every night before going to bed, that pain should be evaluated by a medical professional instead of self-prescribing pain medications.

I know that eventually people will come to their senses and recognize him as purely a showman and not a doctor that can be relied on for good medical product information.  In the interim, I'll keep banging my drum whenever he gets really out of line like he did the past week.

For more about Dr. Charlap or MDPrevent, please visit mymdprevent.com.



  1. I have to agree with you. I thought I was the only one who thought this. I have occasionally watched the Dr. Oz show and have done some on-line (reputable sites) research on the funky supplements he has recommended for various ailments and after reading the side effects wondered how as a medical doctor, he could even mention them on his show. I'm surprised he hasn't gotten sued yet.

  2. He probably avoids a successful suit because of the apparently legally defensible, but fleeting and difficult to read disclaimer posted at the end of the show. It's a shame that a person that could potentially do so much good with his national platform has succumbed to dangerous showmanship and misinformation propagation.

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