Does TV’s Dr. Oz Really Know How To Fix What Ails You?

It’s easy these days to turn to the Internet to try to self-diagnose what ails you, especially with the glut of information provided by authority figures like Dr. Mehmet Oz – better known as Oprah Winfrey-certified Dr. Oz – one of the most recognizable names in the media when it comes to comes medicine. But a new report by the Chicago Tribune is calling his wide-ranging advice into question.

Dr. Oz is a cardiac surgeon who, through his TV show, health guides, magazine columns and Web site, gives information on a plethora of health topics. However, a number of medical experts are criticizing his methods, saying that some of what he offers up is not supported by science.

Specifically questioned is his view that the rotavirus vaccine is “optional” and could cause intussusception, a complicated intestinal infection in infants. But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization, which all recommend the vaccines, data have proven that intussusception is not linked to the vaccine.

Dr. Oz’s spokespeople told the Chicago Tribune that his mission is to give his audience information from multiple perspectives.

“The purpose of the site is to provide users with as much information as possible and allow the users to differentiate between what they find helpful and what they do not,” Dr. Oz’s team wrote in response to questions asked by the paper.

His critics say that that approach might not be the best, when it comes to promoting medicine with a basis in scientific research.

Gary Scwhitzer, University of Minnesota professor and publisher of HealthNewsReview.org, which rates medical news reports, weighed in for the Chicago Tribune‘s article. He says:

We have this population that is thirsty for a little sip of a drink … and we are gushing them every day with this powerful fire hose. It is ineffective and it can be dangerous.

Others question his inclusion of entries on his Web site by a doctor who has supported controversial autism treatments. Also called into question is information from a man Dr. Oz calls a “highly esteemed pioneer” in alternative medicine, Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has been warned by the FDA about health claims he’s attributed to certain products he sells. Dr. Mercola also has circulated the idea that cancer is a fungus treatable with baking soda.

“For it to be a fair discussion, we must include a multitude of voices and opinions, even those that may be controversial,” Oz’s spokespeople wrote, with the senior medical producer of The Dr. Oz Show, Susan Wagner adding that the show aims to “have a conversation with America about health and wellness, in a way that we have never done on TV before.”

Read the entire article on the Dr. Oz debate at the Chicago Tribune.

Dr. Oz: Critics find fault with Dr. Oz’s approach to health advice [Chicago Tribune]