Research confirms it: Dr. Oz dispenses a lot of medical advice with no scientific grounding

Spin doctor?
Spin doctor?
Image: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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A new study in the British Medical Journal has made official something many have argued for a long time: the advice Dr. Oz gives on his famous American television show can be dangerous to follow.

Researchers randomly selected 40 episodes of The Dr. Oz Show and evaluated the recommendations that its star, Mehmet Oz, gives in each one. The majority of his suggestions involve dietary advice, but he also promotes alternative therapies and other things of questionable veracity. They found that only 46% of his claims were corroborated by science, while 36% were found to have no supporting evidence—and 15% were directly contradicted by scientific evidence.

In other words, more than half of what Oz propagates is drivel.

Though this won’t come as a shock to some, there are still millions of people who watch his show. A subset of those viewers actually follow his medical advice.

What makes the study findings all the more disappointing is that Oz is a real doctor, and his resume is extremely impressive. He went to Harvard, got his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and has been a distinguished professor of surgery at Columbia since 2001. By all accounts, he is an expert on cardiothoracic surgery. The study suggests he may want to stop talking about dubious weight-loss schemes and stick to surgery.

In June, Oz was grilled by member of Congress at a hearing about false advertising for weight-loss products. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, essentially accused him of taking advantage of ignorant and vulnerable people. “I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true,” she said. She also said what he was doing was a “recipe for disaster.”

We’ve reached out to Oz’s press representatives for a comment on the new study and will update this post as warranted.

The study, by researchers from the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia, also analyzed the popular show The Doctors, and found that it was similarly bogus. But shows like The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors are so ingrained into the American entertainment-industrial complex that a study like this, however helpful in validating longtime assumptions, is unlikely to convince most people to stop watching.