Dr. Oz loves to use the word "Miracle." Miraculously, he seems to produce more miracles than any clergy-person I have ever heard about. He calls the people who help him find his miracles appropriately miracle-workers. Now the last time I checked, a miracle is an event attributed to divine intervention. Coincidence?
When I was in medical school, we were told that there are no atheists among doctors because every doctor thinks he or she is G-d. Although we went to different medical schools, I wonder if Dr. Oz heard the same thing, but took it literally. Now I grew up in a religious household and I find it objectionable to hear the word miracle bandied around so loosely. This is painfully true at the moment for me as a loved one struggles with an aggressive kidney cancer, and it may actually take a miracle for him to be spared from its short term ravages.
Sometimes, I wonder if the only true miracle in regards to Dr. Oz is that he hasn't really harmed anybody yet with his reckless proclamations. Of course, I am only making an assumption that no one has been harmed because I don't really know for sure. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that some poor soul that followed Dr. Oz's 2012 litany of weight loss miracles developed a serious or life threatening health issue. In 2012 alone, Oz recommended Green Coffee Extract, Sage Leaf Tea, Raspberry Ketones, Glucomannan, and Garcinia Cambogia as magic, if not miracle, weight loss pills. He's even been known to use phrases like "breakthrough," "revolutionary," and "holy grail" to describe his offerings. Imagine if someone took him literally and tried all these pills at the same time. I know patients who have tried a combination of some of these, of course with no success. Ouch!
But 2012 was not the end of his malarkey.
(see article in Slate magazine published January 1, 2013 about Dr. Oz and his dubious science:
As recently as yesterday, he outdid himself when by only the third day of the month he was already pronouncing the greatest miracle, if not product of the year. This was something new and great. As my wife and I watched the show he proceeded to explain how Red Palm Oil (RPO), the first "miracle" that could prevent Alzheimer's, clear blood vessels of fatty plaque build-up, and remove fat from around the omentum (the expanded fat that surrounds bulging waists).
After Oz effectively used contraptions to demonstrate each principle, my wife (who is highly intelligent, but subject to the same persuasiveness that beguiles many Oz followers after one of his pronouncements) turned to me and asked how I knew that the product didn't work as promised.
I diligently explained that what he had described made no scientific sense because the known mechanisms involved in Alzheimer's, calcified plaque build-up in blood vessels, and white fat deposits around the waist were basically different. In addition, if such a product actually existed or were discovered, it wouldn't simply be the best product of 2013. In fact, it would be the best product of all time.
Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. If there were actually a product that cleaned out fat deposits in our blood vessels it would essentially eliminate cardiovascular disease. If there were a product that effectively removed waist fat it would eliminate the weight loss industry. If you could prevent Alzheimer's, you would eliminate sixty plus percent of all dementia cases and with some artery cleaning, at least another ten to fifteen percent.
This would seriously be the greatest scientific discovery of our time.
So what is the actually story about Red Palm Oil?
First, it's not a new discovery. As early as 1929, a study was published in the Biochemistry Journal titled
If he stuck to the mundane, but important work of reminding Americans to be diligent in cancer prevention and early detection, then I doubt few would ever fault him again. But to expect that with yesterday's show heralding no less than 13 new "Miracles," would be nothing less than a miracle itself. That's a shame.