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:

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.)