Monday, June 18, 2012

Dr. Oz and Dr. Hyman Make Quite A Pair of Showmen!

The other night, I happen to catch Dr. Mark Hyman on a local PBS affiliate. Having heard Dr. Hyman speak at the American College of Preventive Medicine conference in February 2012 in Orlando to a group of doctors, I was keen to hear what he had to say to a layperson TV audience.

It started out innocently enough. He spoke about the dangers of diabetes and obesity, the need to eat well, get plenty of exercise, etc.  Then the garbage started. He started touting the need for special blood tests like the NMR LipoProfile test for cholesterol particle size, the need for a special blood test to identify insulin resistance, and the need for everyone to take dietary supplements. My recollection of his speech at the convention to doctors was that he made no mention of the need for these tests or for dietary supplements (other than to me when I questioned him about his own usage).

I'm not surprised that he didn't do so in front of a sophisticated audience; but, I was flabbergasted why he was now singing another tune to a raptly attentive and susceptible TV audience. I didn't have to wait long for my answer. As the show ended, there was a reference to organizations that had helped fund the show.  Among the sponsors were NMR LipoProfile, the company that sells the cholesterol test, and Metagenics, a company that sells supplements.

I was so disappointed that Mark Hyman had essentially sold out his audience. People don't need more blood tests than the conventional tests to tell them that they have a cholesterol or blood sugar problem. Does it really matter if you have a 33% versus a 38% relative risk of developing diabetes or heart disease? Either way, you should make lifestyle changes to avoid them.

These tests are by and large, in my opinion, just plain ridiculous and unnecessary and they only serve to line the pockets of the companies that sell the tests and the doctors who order them with reckless abandonment.  Patients don't need more tests from doctors; they need more time, guidance, and support from them. In my opinion, for whatever it's worth, Mark Hyman is another doctor gone astray by the lure of fame and money.

Of course, he's not the first, and he's not alone. He has his good friend Dr. Oz to keep him company.

Today, I was contacted by a Canadian reporter doing a story on Dr. Oz. She let me know that she had cited my blog in a previous story she wrote about Oz and directed me to the story.

I have often wondered if Dr. Oz actually believes it when he says that a supplement he promotes is as good as he claims or it is all showmanship. If the Dr. Oz quote from her article is accurate, it appears that he doesn't truly believe in his "miracle cures" and "magic pills." For example, in regards to raspberry ketones, he believes that it may have, at best, a marginal benefit.  He is actually quoted as saying that raspberry ketones have the value of a "nudge."  A "nudge" does not quite match the characterization of raspberry ketones as an amazing weight loss product as he claimed on his show.

The article goes on to reveal Dr. Oz's main excuse for pushing so many different products on an unsuspecting audience--which is to give people hope. After reading the article, I can only conclude that he makes such pronouncements at best to make himself seem like  a savior by giving people hope, albeit false hope at that, and at worse to make some money by promoting the sale of a product.  

Read his own words in describing himself. I couldn't make this up:

"There are three words to describe what I do. I’m a doctor. This comes from the Latin docere, teacher. I’m a physician, which comes from the Latin, physica, science. I’m a medicine man, which means healer. To help someone else, you have to have science, you have to be able to heal, and you have to be able to teach. They all work together. In Western medicine, we put a disproportionate (emphasis) on the science part."

Did he really say a "disproportionate (emphasis) on the science part." Really? What should we rely upon when it comes to your health? Opinions? Anecdotes? Marketing? 

Here's another Latin word that seems to be lacking in Dr. Oz's vernacular.  It's veritas, which means truth. Used in the motto of many leading universities including Harvard, Yale and Duke, it is the essence of education to seek and find truth.  If he were a true teacher, he would espouse the truth. It is a shame that Dr. Oz feels his audience doesn't deserve or can't handle the truth.  Instead, he gives them false hopes in the name of good TV and money-making.

May I speak for others when I say we all would like some veritas from Oz and Hyman if they wish to be considered true teachers?

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