My colleague Dr Yoni Freedhoff pointed out a great article on his blog this week, speaking out against Dr Oz and his health claims. The article is written by pharmacist Scott Gavura, who started his own blog in response to frustrations with the growing use of pseudoscientific products and practices – in other words, use of (usually expensive) supplements and products for betterment of health that do not actually have any substantial science to support their use.
Scott goes on to do a reality check on all 15 items on Dr Oz’s list of Superfoods, from raspberry ketones to green tea to chia, acknowledging the benefits of some of these substances, but also pointing out where data are lacking, and where there may also be some potential harms.
Scott echoes my own concerns about Dr Oz:
What frustrates me the most about Dr. Oz is that he should know better. He’s a heart surgeon, (who continues to treat patients), an academic, and a research scientist, with literally hundreds of publications to his name. He has gone through the peer review process more times than most health professionals. There is little reason to expect, based on his pre-television history, that he’d be willing to build a platform to offer demonstrably bad health advice. And that’s a shame, because with a show in 118 countries that reaches over 3 million viewers in the USA alone, it could be a powerful tool for providing good health information to those seeking it. And more often than not, that opportunity is squandered.
Out of respect for a colleague, I think, our profession has been quiet about Dr Oz for too long. However, more and more, we are seeing all manner of health care professionals speak out about his inappropriate use of his title as a physician to tout supplements and substances that do not have scientific evidence behind them, and in some cases (such as in the case of the HCG diet) could do harm (read here about the potential harms of HCG).
The sad reality is that the voice of medical bloggers speaking out against these practices is diminutive in comparison with Dr Oz’s capital backing and marketing power.
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