Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dr. Oz says Oops - Again!

Ye faithful readers of this blog know of my disdain for Dr. Oz's almost daily pronouncements about the value of taking one supplement or another. On a slew of recent shows, in the face of irrefutable evidence, the good doctor has started to backtrack on a number of his prior recommendations.

On one show, he cut his calcium recommendation in half. Sounds good, but the recommendation was arbitrary. Instead of explaining to people that they shouldn't exceed a total of 1,400 mg of calcium from a combination of pills and food (emphasis on pills) as the study upon which he referenced showed, he still recommended 600 mg. The study showed that if you get all your calcium from food, there are no adverse effects.  But he couldn't bring himself to flat out state that people should avoid the pills altogether. His show's sponsors and other friends in the supplement industry would not appreciate that call.

On another show he cautioned against using L-Carnitine, an amino acid derivative found in meat and dairy products (such as protein drinks, bars and powders containing whey), which during multiple other shows he readily admitted advocating that people should take it. L-Carnitine has now been shown to be strongly related to development of heart disease.  Nice that he says now to stop, but what about the potential tens of thousands of people who took his prior advice and harmed themselves in the process?

Finally, on a third episode, he cautioned viewers that multivitamins may be harmful because their manufacturers may not adhere to ethical standards of producing exactly what the label states is inside. Read my prior blogs to discover that's the least of the problems with taking multivitamins. Don't take multivitamins unless prescribed by your physician.

So on one hand, we should all be very pleased that the good doctor is willing to admit his mistakes. I know I am. Yet, while he backtracks on some products, he continues to advocate for other products that also lack scientific merit, such as still pushing probiotics for general use. (See my multiple blogs on probiotics.)

It is said that the key to computer artificial intelligence is for the machines to learn, particularly from their mistakes. One would expect no less from a licensed physician. Would it really be too much to ask for him to vet his products,. e.g. requiring conclusive scientific evidence before support their use on national television?

If you are still watching his show, for the umpteenth time I say, enjoy it as entertainment, but under no circumstances follow his advice without first consulting your physician.  If his advice harms you or even kills you, his later disavowal won't do you much good.

Finally, those who watched the shows I just referenced may have noted that while he admitted he gave bad advice, he never apologized for doing so.  Therefore, let me say I am sorry on his behalf.

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