Showing posts with label TV Medicine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TV Medicine. Show all posts

April 19, 2015

Columbia Urged to Fire Dr. Oz Over ‘Quackery’

Ten doctors from around the country are calling for Dr. Mehmet Oz’s dismissal from his current faculty position at Columbia University. In a letter sent to Columbia’s Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, the physicians underline Oz’s “disdain” for evidence-based medicine, “baseless and relentless opposition” to genetically modified crops, and “egregious lack of integrity” in promoting “quack” treatment and cures.

Following an explosive rise to fame in 2009 with his Dr. Oz show, the TV doctor’s reputation has soured in recent years as mainstream science began digging deeper into his outlandish claims. In December of last year, researchers discovered only 46 percent of the claims were backed by evidence. Even worse, 15 percent of the claims actually contradicted the prevailing scientific wisdom. While the show protects itself by billing the information as entertainment, many are beginning to have doubts where the line between health advice and theatrics really falls.

“We are surprised and dismayed that Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons would permit Dr. Mehmet Oz to occupy a faculty appointment, let alone a senior administrative position in the Department of Surgery,” wrote Dr. Henry Miller, of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, in the letter to Columbia’s Dean, Dr. Lee Goldman.

Miller along with nine other physicians cited several major points of contention with the television doctor. On multiple occasions, they argue, Dr. Oz has rejected evidence-based medicine in favor of supposed “miracle” cures. The most egregious of his claims, the supposed “miracle cure” Green Coffee Bean extract, landed Oz in front of a Senate hearing last June and prompted Sen. Claire McCaskill to chastise the doctor for making claims when “you know it’s not true.”
Other complaints from the physicians tackle Oz’s opposition to genetic engineering of food crops despite the evidence that shows the process poses no health risks. But worst of all, the physicians allege, is the compromise Oz has made throughout his career to promote unfounded treatment and cures “in the interest of personal financial gain.”

In January of this year, the Federal Trade Commission settled with the makers of Green Coffee Bean extract, Pure Health and Genesis Today, for $9 million. The suit partly involved Oz because on numerous occasions Genesis Today’s CEO, Lindsey Duncan, appeared on Oz’s show to promote Green Coffee Bean extract’s power in promoting weight loss. Then, before the show aired, Duncan would purchase advertising space to manipulate future sales, exploiting the now-infamous “Oz Effect.”

“Thus, Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgements about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both,” the doctors wrote.

In response, a university spokesperson emailed the doctors reassuring them that “Columbia is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion.”

Whether those statements are genuinely intended to help people lead healthier lives or simply to entertain them is still a matter of controversy.                                               

December 23, 2014

Can Dr. Oz Be Trusted? Is He a Fake?

Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press
Mehmet Oz testified that he believes in the products he mentions on his show and said his family gets the same advice as his audience.
It’s not hard to understand what makes Dr. Oz so popular. Called “America’s doctor,” syndicated talk-show host Mehmet Oz speaks in a way anyone can understand. Medicine may be complex, but with Dr. Oz, clad in scrubs and crooning to millions of viewers about miracles and revolutionary breakthroughs, it’s often not. He makes it fun, and people can’t get enough.
“I haven’t seen a doctor in eight years,” The New Yorker quoted one viewer telling Oz. “I’m scared. You’re the only one I trust.”
But is that trust misplaced? Or has Oz, who often peddles miracle cures for weight loss and other maladies, mortgaged medical veracity for entertainment value?
Oz has said he considers himself an iconoclast trying to shake up a stodgy medical community. “Much of medicine is just plain old logic,” he told The New Yorker. “So I am out there trying to persuade people to be patients. And that often means telling them what the establishment doesn’t want to hear: That their answers are not the only answers, and their medicine is not the only medicine.”’
But questions have been accumulating. In June, he was hauled in front of Congress, where Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told him he gave people false hope and criticized his segments as a “recipe for disaster.” Then last month, a study he widely trumpeted lauding coffee bean weight-loss pills was retracted despite Oz’s assertions it could “burn fat fast for anyone who wants to lose weight.”
And now, his work has come under even greater scrutiny in 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, said that 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.”
The study is part of an ongoing debate about medicine on television. There’s clearly a market for doctor talk shows. The Dr. Oz Show ranks in the top five talk shows in the United States, bringing in a haul of roughly 2.9 million viewers per day. The talk show The Doctors, also studied in the paper, nets around 2.3 million viewers per show.
These days, Oz considers disease in terms of marketability. Cancer, he told The New Yorker, “is our Angelina Jolie. We could sell that show every day.”
Some doctors have expressed alarm at Oz’s willingness to sell it. “Although perhaps not as ‘sexy’ as Dr. Oz would like, the public needs more information about the effects of diet as a whole on cancer risk,” commented one paper titled “Reality Check: There is no such thing as a miracle food” in the journal Nutrition and Cancer. It lambasted Oz’s assertion that endive, red onion and sea bass can decrease the likelihood of ovarian cancer by 75 percent.
“Mehmet is now an entertainer,” New York doctor Eric Rose told The New Yorker. “And he’s great at it. People learn a lot, and it can be meaningful in their lives. … Sometimes Mehmet will entertain wacky ideas — particularly if they are wacky and have entertainment value.”
Oz has said he’s only trying to give people all the options out there. He said data shouldn’t stop patients from testing things like raspberry ketone — a “miracle in a bottle to burn your fat” — even if it’s never been tested on people, according to Slate.
“I recognize that oftentimes they don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact,” Oz said at a U.S. Senate hearing, adding that he “personally believes in the items I talk about in my show. ... But, nevertheless, I give my audience the advice I give my family all the time. I give my family these products, specifically the ones you mentioned. I’m comfortable with that part.”
Researchers with the British Medical Journal weren’t nearly so comfortable. They selected 40 episodes from last year, identifying 479 separate medical recommendations. After paging through the relevant medical research, they found evidence supported just 46 percent of his recommendations, contradicted 15 percent and wasn’t available for 39 percent.
The study was not without its limitations, however. The researchers conceded it was difficult to parse “what was said and what was implied.” And some of the recommendations were extremely general — “sneezing into your elbow prevents the spread of germs” — and consequently difficult to find in medical research, let alone substantiate.
Still, the article was a withering assessment of Oz and the whole doctor talk-show business. “Consumers should be skeptical about any recommendations provided on television medical talk shows, as details are limited and only a third to one half of recommendations are based on believable or somewhat believable evidence,” the paper said. 
“… Decisions around health care issues are often challenging and require much more than nonspecific recommendations based on little or no evidence.”
Terrence McCoy,
The Washington Post

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