Sour apples in land of Oz as FDA rips his apple juice fear-mongering

MedPage Today reports:

Mehmet Oz, MD, the Columbia University thoracic surgeon who gained fame first in books and more recently with his syndicated television show, has run afoul of the Food and Drug Administration with his report about levels of arsenic in popular brands of apple juice.

The FDA called the report “irresponsible and misleading” and another TV doc, ABC’s Richard Besser, MD, accused Oz of fear-mongering.

Fox News’ Dr. Manny Alvarez rushes to Oz’s defense, though:

“I’m very proud of Dr. Oz for his report today on potentially dangerous levels of arsenic found in certain brands of apple juice, which may classify some of them as unsuitable for consumption. He’s sounding the alarm for an issue that I believe needs to be brought to attention.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but just look at the growing levels of learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and other diseases that seem so prevalent today as compared to decades ago.”

Hmmm. if that’s NOT alarmist, what would qualify?

ADDENDUM: Meantime, since Dr. Manny drew our attention to Fox News’ health news coverage, their site today posted “Student Makes Breast Cancer Breakthrough.” Excerpt:

“A Welsh student made a scientific breakthrough which could stop people dying from breast cancer by halting the spread of the disease.” No independent source is interviewed. Only in the last line does the story say that eventually the researchers plan to try the method on “breast cancer in the body.”

Wouldn’t it be prudent to refrain from calling something a “breakthrough which could stop people dying from breast cancer” until it’s actually been tried in people?!?

Alarmist before, sensational now.

Is that the health news equivalent of fair and balanced?

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Liz Scherer

September 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm

The world would be a safer, calmer place without TV docs.

Ken Leebow

September 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm

It’s tough to believe many of the claims Dr. Oz comes up with. In his recent cover story in Time magazine, he stated: “The only fat that is universally accepted as bad is trans fat, and that’s now been stripped out of most foods.”
In fact, trans fat, shows up in baked goods, processed foods, and many fast foods. For a presentation, I randomly chose a Wendy’s meal. Wendy’s reported that there are 3.5 grams of trans fat in the meal.
So, one week he downplays a known poison in our food supply and the next he makes a bold statement about one that, most likely, is not a problem.
Ken Leebow

Nancy Stordahl

September 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I think we must be wary of any doctor who has his/her own tv show because he/she may be more concerned about ratings than giving completely accurate information. In tv-land there is bound to be sensationalism, fear mongering and sadly misinformation. Viewers need to beware.


September 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Practicing MDs like myself tend to really despise Oz for spreading pseudoscience and fear. So much so that I did a dis rap video calling him out called Sucka MDs:


September 19, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I’m happy Dr. Oz is taking some heat. I can’t stand to watch his show, it’s one bad thing after another and then if you watch his show, two weeks later, he’ll be saying the opposite.
I wish they’d pull his show off the air. He’s doing a disservice to everyone.

Nancy Ortiz

September 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm

But sadly, many of the comments and questions I get from friends and clients is how much they believe him. They start with “BUT Dr. Oz said”. The problem is that much of the info I get back is true – but some is not. How do we expect the average consumer to discern what is fact or fiction? Just keep doing our jobs I guess!!

Jonathan Barton

September 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I see the problem with TV Doctors not being that they are not great doctors but there is only so much time in a day and in order to be the expert in every thing it takes far to much time, research and experience to master. I believe after a couple of shows they just read from a script that produces and sponsors pay for.


September 28, 2011 at 11:34 am

I agree with Liz Scherer. Getting everyone all worked up may be good for ratings, but not good for the rest of us.

Carolyn Thomas

September 28, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Ouch. This just keeps getting more embarrassing every day….
Dr. Tom Linden, a professor of medical and science journalism at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill told the Los Angeles Times that today’s celebrity doctors can be divided into two broad categories: medical journalists and medical showmen.
I suspect Dr. Oz has now morphed into the latter. Dr. Linden adds:
“Journalists operate under journalistic principles. The showmen operate outside the sphere of journalism and are in the world of informational entertainment.”
Gotta go now – Dr. Oz is doing his entertaining “Four Libido Super-Foods That Will Save Your Relationship” segment. It’s a classic….

Gary Schwitzer

December 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

Followup to the Besser – Oz brouhaha:


“After accusing Dr. Mehmet Oz of “fear mongering” for reporting that some brands of apple juice contained high levels of arsenic, ABC News’s senior health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser, was forced to concede last week that Oz was right.”