Dr. Oz Gives Out Wrong/Baseless Advice More Often Than Right

Dr. Oz, “America’s doctor,” while wildly popular, continues to receive bad press regarding the accuracy of his advice.  Recent Washington Post link: “Half of Dr. Oz’s Medical Advice is Baseless or Wrong” (Thanks to Eric Benchimol’s twitter feed for this link)

An excerpt:

The British Medical Journal, which on Wednesday published a study analyzing Oz’s claims along with those made on another medical talk show. What they found wasn’t reassuring. The researchers, led by Christina Korownyk of the University of Alberta, charged medical research either didn’t substantiate — or flat out contradicted — more than half of Oz’s recommendations. “Recommendations made on medical talk shows often lack adequate information on specific benefits or the magnitude of the effects of these benefits,” the article said. “… The public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows.”

Related blogs:

Medical School Student vs. Dr. Oz

A recent link from Vox (highlight on KT Park’s twitter feed) highlights a medical student’s actions against Dr. Oz’s pseudoscience.

Here’s an excerpt:

Benjamin Mazer is a third-year medical student at the University of Rochester. Last year, after becoming increasingly concerned with the public-health impact of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s sometimes pseudoscience health advice, he decided to ask state and national medical associations to do something about it.

“Dr. Oz has something like 4-million viewers a day,” Mazer told Vox. “The average physician doesn’t see a million patients in their lifetime. That’s why organized medicine should be taking action.”…

We had all of this first-hand experience with patients who really liked his show and trusted him quite a bit. [Dr. Oz] would give advice that was really not great or it had no medical basis. It might sound harmless when you talk about things like herbal pills or supplements. But when the physicians’ advice conflicted with Oz, the patients would believe Oz….

I wrote policy for the Medical Society of the State of New York [where Dr. Oz is licensed] and the American Medical Association asking them to more actively address medical quackery on TV and in the media—specifically Dr. Oz.

Related blog posts:

Why Dr. Oz Has Not Lost His Medical License

An interesting article from Vox (link from retweet by Eric Benchimol) provides insight on why Dr. Oz can make numerous false claims of ‘miracle’ cures and not lose his medical license.

Here’s an excerpt:

The fact that Oz hasn’t lost any credentials speaks to a larger challenge in modern medicine: Once you get a medical license, its actually really difficult to lose it.

“This has been a longstanding complaint with medicine and the professional regulation. You either need to have sex with patients who file a complaint, be a really bad substance-using person… or you’re malpractice-level bad as a doctor,” David Jones, professor of culture of medicine at Harvard University, says. “Nothing in Dr. Oz’s conduct is even close to getting the attention of the state boards because they are dealing with sex criminals, alcoholics, and gross misconduct.”


The article details why the American Medical Association, New York State Dept of Public Health, Columbia University, and the Federal Trade Commission are all unable to take action against Dr. Oz.

Related blog posts:

Here’s John Oliver’s takedown of Dr. Oz: Dr. Oz on Last Week Tonight 

What to Make of Dr. Oz and his Detox? Not much

Although my exposure to Dr. Oz has been limited, he is not one of my favorite TV doctors. He often offers opinions in areas where he clearly is not an expert.  By presenting himself as a doctor who is knowledgeable in so many areas, he has the potential of undermining the credibility of physicians more broadly.  A recent report provides some welcome pushback and at the same time indicates that “detox” treatments are unlikely to be helpful.

Here’s the link: Detox treatments by DrOz and others lack evidence, benefit  – CBC

An excerpt:

Despite bold promises that the treatments would purify, detoxify and boost energy and optimize organ function, the cleanses lacked any scientific evidence of efficacy, or clear idea of what toxins they would actually diminish…

“In looking at the medical literature on these things, there has never been a properly conducted scientific investigation of any of these treatments that I’ve been able to find,” Dr. George Dresser, a toxicologist, pharmacologist and an internal medicine specialist at London Health Sciences Centre, told Marketplace co-host Tom Harrington. “It’s an intensely popular topic. And it’s popular because people are interested in a quick fix to health ”

A group of sorority sisters from Western University volunteered to help Marketplace test the cleanse. Half of the group participated in the Dr. Oz cleanse, which required that the students observe a strict diet and refrain from alcohol and caffeine, and not eat any food after 7 p.m. They also drank detoxifying teas and took soothing baths as prescribed by the diet, while the other students ate and drank normally.

To test the efficacy of the cleanse, all students had their liver and kidney functions tested both before and after the 48-hour period. At the end of the 48-hour period, however, Dr. Dresser was unable to detect any physiological benefit at all, or even tell which students had participated in the cleanse.

Despite a CV that boasts degrees from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania medical school, Dr. Oz has been the target of growing criticism from fellow medical and science professionals for his promotion of products and methods that lack evidence.

Bottomline: “Given his education and influence,” wrote Erin May on the Harvard University science research blog Policylab, “there’s no excuse for the unsubstantiated claims and sensational language that is so pervasive on his show.”

Perhaps Dr. Oz can garner additional publicity by placing his detox on the following website:  Quackwatch (He’s already frequently cited on this website.)