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Dr. Oz - One of the most dangerous men on TV
Posted: 05 May 2011 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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One thing about conventional medicine that neither Dr. Oz nor Dr. Weil is going to be heard criticizing is the practice of putting the title “Dr.” before their name in order to gain respect, credibility, and sell books. It’s too bad that if someone veers too far away from the fundamentals of conventional medicine (such as preaching against vaccination) that they can’t be “excommunicated” and have their titles taken away from them.  It reminds me of creationism radio where I live.  The people they are interviewing to talk about how evolution is BS are always Dr. SoandSo or SoandSo PHD.

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Posted: 05 May 2011 07:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Occam. - 05 May 2011 05:42 PM

You raise a point that’s fascinated me for many years, Macgyver.  While few educated in the scientific fields adopt weird views like alternative medicine, creationism, anti-climate change, anti-vaccination, etc., I wonder how many of them are unethical con men who know they are lying, but have found they can make more money that way, and how many of them sinceerely believe they tripe they spout. 

I recall that in my undergraduate years there were a few chem majors who managed to pass the courses because they were able to spout back what the instructors and text books said, but were surprisingly deficient in scientific thinking.  I even had a few of them foisted on me during my work life.  Fortunately, I was able to transfer them to less vulnerable positions like doing literature searches.

Occam

Well in med school there were clearly two types of people.. those who studied science to become a doctor and those who became a doctor to study science. The great majority were in the former camp since most people who really wanted to study science went into PhD programs. Some like myself decided we loved science but didnt want to spend our life fighting for grants so we went to med school instead. Even among those who studied science simply to become a doctor most had a good comprehension and appreciation for the scientific method but there was a spectrum and unfortunately there was a significant number who definitely didnt understand the importance of science, but managed to get through simply by memorizing what they had to so they could pass the tests.

Despite my lack of respect for Oz and his methods I really dont think he falls into the group who doesnt understand the importance of the scientific method. He got too far in his career and had too much respect at one time for that to be the case. I honestly think that his ego and greed got the best of him and that he has become arrogant believing that he knows better than the rest of the scientific community. Obviously he is also doing this to advance his popularity with the public and his bank account as well

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Posted: 05 May 2011 09:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I remember Minoxidil was first studied as a anti-hypertensive. Then someone noticed the ‘side effect’ that it regrew hair on people with thinning hair. Viagra was first (and is still) used for pulmonary hypertension, and we all know what ‘side effect’ was noted on this medication. We manipulate the side effects of many medications, depending upon what i being treated. I have yet to see anyone turn down Rogaine or Viagra because it lowers the blood pressure… long face

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Posted: 06 May 2011 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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macgyver - 05 May 2011 03:53 PM
brightfut - 05 May 2011 02:43 PM

What do people here think of Dr. Andrew Weil?  Does he come from the same boat as Oz?

Im not an expert on Dr. Weil but i have run across some of his statements from time to time and Im aware of his rants against the pharmaceutical industry. Weil seems to never have met a drug he didnt hate. He often makes claims about drug side effects that are wildly exaggerated. Every drug ( and for that matter nearly everything you put in your mouth and every choice you make in life) has potential side effects but the key word is “potential”.  Dr. Weil would have you believe that even the most remotely unlikely side effect is a near certainty. He then uses that fear to turn you toward the presumably ( but actually not) much safer “natural” alternatives.  He basically spouts a lot of the same nonsense that most alt med purveyors do as far as I can see.

It amazes me that these men ( Oz, Weil and others with an MD after their name) who were trained in the scientific method can fall under the belief that you can walk into the woods and pull up a root or a leaf that would have medicinal value and yet somehow magically have no side effects simply because it came out of the ground instead of coming from the drug store. Its a common mistake that all CAM purveyors make either because they actually believe it or because its an effective tool to use on a gullible public. What they fail to realize is that if a CAM medicine has a biological effect it is by definition a drug whether they call it one or not and like all agents that have biological effects, they also have potential side effects. The only reason that CAM medicines may appear to be safer is because most of them are biologically inert and do nothing at all good or bad.

Thank you.  I wholeheartedly agree.  As a pharmacist it is amazing the number of people you come across that think just because something is “natural” or herbal that it is safer and without side effects.  In most cases there is little or no good clinical data regarding their safety or effectiveness.  The evidence is typically anecdotal.  Anything you put into your body has the potential to cause a reaction of some sort; you just have to weigh the benefits versus risks.

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Posted: 06 May 2011 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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brightfut - 05 May 2011 06:01 PM

One thing about conventional medicine that neither Dr. Oz nor Dr. Weil is going to be heard criticizing is the practice of putting the title “Dr.” before their name in order to gain respect, credibility, and sell books. It’s too bad that if someone veers too far away from the fundamentals of conventional medicine (such as preaching against vaccination) that they can’t be “excommunicated” and have their titles taken away from them.  It reminds me of creationism radio where I live.  The people they are interviewing to talk about how evolution is BS are always Dr. SoandSo or SoandSo PHD.

I have to say I agree with you. If youre going to use the MD in your name you have a certain obligation to stick to the science. Its a bit misleading to do otherwise and it tarnishes the reputation of traditional medicine. They should be forced to put up a disclaimer. The sad thing is that in the name of profits and appeasing the public, many hospitals and even academic centers have started to include CAM in their facilities and training programs. Its all driven by the desire to attract patients and appear ‘open minded’ riding on the coat tails of people like Oz and Weil’s popularity. Its really sickening but its the harsh reality in this environment where profit margins in medicine have been slashed and things have become very competitive. Many medical professionals and institutions are selling their souls to stay in business.

I say it all the time and it bears repeating.. “Patients should be given what they need NOT what they want”. It may sound a bit paternalistic but it really isnt. I’m not advocating a “Do what I say” approach., but a doctor should never be put in the position of feeling that his financial success is riding on keeping the patient happy. Its a recipe for bad medicine. This is one of the reasons why patients are often given things they shouldnt be given.. like antibiotics for a cold or a Head CT for a simple headache, or a Stress Test as part of a routine physical.. Its because the doctor knows that this is what it takes to make the patient happy even though he knows its bad medicine.

When you turn medicine into a commercial competitive business then the care you get will be driven by financial forces rather than good sound medical reasoning. Thats been happening ever since medicine became a business but its gotten exponentially worse with the advent of managed care and the mass marketing of medical services.

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Posted: 06 May 2011 05:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Isn’t Oz on staff a Columbia University, and NY Presbyterian Hospital?  When Oprah gives her blessing to an educated person, that’s a sign that Oprah is learning, and that educated person is bowing to her TV prowess and connections.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with a science TV broadcast, as long as the message is helpful and accurate.  I think more quality information is better than less.

When I see a medical doctor on the TV… whether the evening news, a TV series, a documentary, or wherever…  I appreciate it.  Although I’m leery at some of it.  On the nightly TV news in my locale there is a medical doctor that regularly makes announcements on this or that medical tip or announcement… it winds up being bad because the journalists always turn it into a fearsome teaser, “Is there a disease that will affect you, and you don’t even know it?”  So I get a little tired of the teasers, but the doctor does a decent job of giving calm advice, although the premature warnings of this or that study with results that you shouldn’t act upon yet, are too much for me.

Dr. Oz seems to do an honest enough job.  I guess the first time I saw him he had found some human blood vessels and other parts to show on TV.  That was fascinating, it wasn’t a blood mess.  If I heard him promoting a supplement, other than a vitamin, then I’d be doubtful because of the messages against CAM that Dr. macgyver has posted here.  Thank you.

It’s good to see you return macgyver, I’m sure that everyone who has read your messages has appreciated you.  smile

macgyver - 06 May 2011 12:49 PM

I say it all the time and it bears repeating.. “Patients should be given what they need NOT what they want”. It may sound a bit paternalistic but it really isnt. I’m not advocating a “Do what I say” approach.,

You’re completel right.  smile  The medical professionals should be the gate keepers of what is necessary or unnecessary.

I think that lay people are vulnerable to advertising about this or that supplement because they don’t have any information refuting it.  They need more information.  People need to talk about the information that’s on TV, good or bad, simply because it is broadcast on TV.

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Posted: 06 May 2011 07:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Jump you are right that more information is good, but only as long as the information is accurate. Bad information is dangerous and when its delivered by someone who we’ve all been taught to trust, it becomes even more dangerous.  Oz may seem like a nice guy and I agree hes an affable man. He’s learned his craft well. He knows how to make his viewers feel comfortable and feel like he really cares. His affiliation with New York Presbyterian Hospital only proves that he is an MD in good standing. It does not mean that everything he says is true and much of it is not.

I wish it were as easy as you think to separate the fact from fiction in the stuff Oz puts on his show but its not. While there are occasional nuggets of truth in some of the stories on his show most of what he presents that isnt completely wrong, is hype and exaggeration. He blends it all together so that it is virtually impossible for the lay person to know where reality ends and fantasy begins in his presentations.

I agree that people need to be able to talk about what they see on TV which is why i try to tone down my disgust with Oz when patients bring it up during a visit. I calmly explain to them first of all that Oz is a TV personality and that his priority is entertainment not necessarily accuracy when he does his show. I also explain that he represents a minority view point among doctors. He does not represent the consensus view of medical doctors and he is certainly not someone that we all admire and respect.. This often surprises many patients who seem to think he is a leader in the medical community, a belief I am happy to dispel.

The one reassuring thing that i find when i discuss this with patients is that once I start poking holes in Oz’s advice a light bulb seems to go off for most patients. They seem to get it and I can tell that they knew something wasnt quite right about what they were hearing from Oz. I think he may have finally gone to far. Most reasonably intelligent people are starting to see him for the carnival side show that he is.

[ Edited: 06 May 2011 07:23 PM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 06 May 2011 10:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Oz may seem like a nice guy and I agree hes an affable man.

Most con men, hucksters, and psuedo-scientists are. That helps them achieve an even greater aura of credibility. The trick is to look beyond the smooth sales pitch and the winning personality to ferret out the nuggets of reality.

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Posted: 06 May 2011 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 06 May 2011 10:20 PM

Oz may seem like a nice guy and I agree hes an affable man.

Most con men, hucksters, and psuedo-scientists are. That helps them achieve an even greater aura of credibility. The trick is to look beyond the smooth sales pitch and the winning personality to ferret out the nuggets of reality.

Con men are usually much smarter than the people that believe them.I think that trick only works with people who already dont buy their B.S.

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Posted: 07 May 2011 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 06 May 2011 05:21 PM

Dr. Oz seems to do an honest enough job. 

I regret writing that, I retract that comment.  I wrote that based on the ten or so episodes that I saw of his, where he mostly talked about basic biology and never mentioned any prescriptions or supplements in what I saw.  I can’t say that I’ve followed him closely.  If Dr. macgyver says Oz is promoting alternative medicine I believe it, and reject Oz for it. 

macgyver - 06 May 2011 07:17 PM

He blends it all together so that it is virtually impossible for the lay person to know where reality ends and fantasy begins in his presentations.

Sure, as an amateur I can’t tell what recommendations are tested, proven, and the ones that are experimental or unknown.  That’s why I rely on an expert in the field, a medical doctor.  And so to draw the line between a physician who is sticking to the science and one who isn’t, is there some way for an amateur to tell?  Second opinion?  Without a simple accurate way telling, a rule of thumb, its tough to judge.

And I know that the amateurs will make amateur mistakes, and need expert instruction.  But when people have questions, then they’re going to look for answers, if they are ushered quickly out of their doctor’s office without having a conversation like this one then that is a factor in the popularity of the Oz show.  I am not saying that a physician should have conversations with each and every patient, that would obviously take too much time.  But people are going to look for answers.

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Posted: 07 May 2011 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Quoting Mid Atlantic:

Con men are usually much smarter than the people that believe them

I’m not sure that’s always the case.  Part of it is training and practice.  For example, a history professor may be much more intelligent than the plumber he hires, but the plumber knows his job while the professor would make a real mess of the clogged sink.  Second, most people are trusting; they expect others to be ethical and honest so it’s easy for them to get sucked in.  Third, as we see from the large majority of people who accept without question what their religious professionals tell them, most people believe authority.  So, if one has strong credentials (forged or not), many people will accept what s/he’s saying.

Occam

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Posted: 07 May 2011 05:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Occam. - 07 May 2011 03:24 PM

Second, most people are trusting; they expect others to be ethical and honest so it’s easy for them to get sucked in.  Third, as we see from the large majority of people who accept without question what their religious professionals tell them, most people believe authority. 

I agree.

Second, I am proud to be in a society with trusting people, and the hoaxters are not clever for lying to them, those perpetrators are just guilty of contributing to the destruction of society.

Third, there are people who pursue an idea with a good open minded attitude, looking for the truth, not stopping until they can investigate, and sometimes they get burned.  Obviously that’s who the medical people here are trying to protect.  smile  But then some people are closed minded, self assured, they’ll take any sort of confirmation, even merely popularity (external validation, I think the psychologists call it), as definitive proof.  Jenni McCarthy, using her star power to harm, as I understand.  downer

I think one of the most effective ways that the hoaxers get to good people is by using technical sounding, but so hollow and inaccurate, language.

[ Edited: 07 May 2011 07:00 PM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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Posted: 07 May 2011 06:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 07 May 2011 05:34 PM
Occam. - 07 May 2011 03:24 PM

Second, most people are trusting; they expect others to be ethical and honest so it’s easy for them to get sucked in.  Third, as we see from the large majority of people who accept without question what their religious professionals tell them, most people believe authority. 

I agree.

Second, I am proud to be in a society with trusting people, and the hoaxters are not clever for lying to them, those perpetrators are just guilty of contributing to the destruction of society.

Third, there are people who pursue an idea with a good open minded attitude, looking for the truth, not stopping until they can investigate, and sometimes they get burned.  Obviously that’s who the medical people here are trying to protect.  smile  But then some people are closed minded, self assured, they’ll take any sort of confirmation, even merely popularity (external validation, I think the psychologists call it), as definitive proof.  Jenni McArthy, using her star power to harm, as I understand.  downer

I think one of the most effective ways that the hoaxers get to good people is by using technical sounding, but so hollow and inaccurate, language.

Not everyone in society is all that trusting or trustworthy.Many “regular people"lie,cheat and steal when they can get away with it,if they get caught they just deal with it.Some people seem bothered by it,and some dont. Seems like the old B.S. just gets replaced with new B.S.I think that getting manipulated and then learning from that experience is the best way to avoid it happening again.But it always will downer

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Posted: 07 May 2011 06:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 07 May 2011 09:02 AM

[

macgyver - 06 May 2011 07:17 PM

He blends it all together so that it is virtually impossible for the lay person to know where reality ends and fantasy begins in his presentations.

Sure, as an amateur I can’t tell what recommendations are tested, proven, and the ones that are experimental or unknown.  That’s why I rely on an expert in the field, a medical doctor.  And so to draw the line between a physician who is sticking to the science and one who isn’t, is there some way for an amateur to tell?  Second opinion?  Without a simple accurate way telling, a rule of thumb, its tough to judge.

And I know that the amateurs will make amateur mistakes, and need expert instruction.  But when people have questions, then they’re going to look for answers, if they are ushered quickly out of their doctor’s office without having a conversation like this one then that is a factor in the popularity of the Oz show.  I am not saying that a physician should have conversations with each and every patient, that would obviously take too much time.  But people are going to look for answers.

Jump, you’re right. It can be difficult for a non-medical person to separate fact from fiction especially when its presented by an expert showman like Oz. There are a few things you can do though.

1) If you have to watch these shows try to verify what youve seen from a reliable source. There are usually good web sites put out by many of the official medical organizations. Infectious disease subjects are well covered on the CDC web site, Diabetes on the American Diabetes association web site etc. Your doctor can be a good resource as well. Unfortunately as you have already accurately stated, a doctor can not spend 10-15 minutes discussing these things on every office visit but if there is something a patient is particularly concerned about and they ask me I will usually be happy to take some time to help educate them. It benefits both me and the patient if I can help them sort these things out.

2) Watch out for catch words. Oz loves to use the terms “toxins” and “anitoxidants”.  CAM promoters love to misuse these two terms and many people listening to them fall for these compelling ideas. Whenever you hear these terms you can rest assured that what ever comes next is Woo. The body does indeed produce toxins ( the names of which I doubt any of these CAM promoters could produce on request), but the body is also exquisitely evolved to rid itself of them without anyones help. Healthy individuals do NOT accumulate toxins that need to be cleansed with the assistance of herbs and supplements, and in all likelihood the feelings of fatigue, or bloating, inability to lose weight, or headaches that these con artisits list as examples of a build up of toxins are more likely a result of eating too much, exercising too little, and burning the candle at both ends.. NOT the build up of some toxin that’s going to be cleansed from your body with some concoction of roots and leaves.

Antioxidants are another favorite catch phrase of CAM huxters. Again they’ve taken some real science and distorted it to fit their purposes. The facts are that in the course of metabolism our bodies do produce a small amount of “oxidants” like hydrogen peroxide. Oxidants are highly reactive and can cause proteins and DNA to break down. Knowing this, scientists have theorized that oxidants might play a role in cellular aging and in causing cancer. The problem here is that what happens on a test tube and what happens in a complex organism like the human body can be very different. To date no one has shown in controlled studies that antioxidants reduce the risk of developing cancer or any other ailment. In fact one study which was done to look at the use of antioxidants in smokers had to be stopped early because the participants had a higher rate of cancer than the placebo group. And yet the idea of antioxidants as the elixir of life has gotten a life of its own. Oz in particular is fond of encouraging his follower to eat certain “super foods” that are high in anitoxidants on nearly every show. Luckily most of these foods are healthy anyway but unfortunately I have seen patients who have forgone smoking cessation because they believe that all they have to do is take anitoxidants and everything will be fine.

I think ultimately you need to find a good medical professional that you trust and consult them for important questions

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Posted: 07 May 2011 07:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Good advice, macgyver. Acai has been a gold mine for some sellers because of the antioxidant “crave”.

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