The Controversy over Dr. Oz
Apr 09, 2010

By Christine Vara
I have just read a very insightful article from the Chicago Tribune regarding Dr. Oz and his proliferation of medical information on both his current television show and the website that supports it.  The article leads with the header, “Celebrity surgeon’s goal is to offer ‘as much information as possible’ on health issues. But critics say that inclusive approach does the public a disservice.” 
As a brief overview, Dr. Oz is a cardiac surgeon who was a regular guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” before becoming a celebrity himself.  The Chicago Tribune article brings to light several instances where claims made through the site are not supported by medical science.  Dr. Oz’s spokespeople explain that to offer a fair discussion, they must include various voices and even controversial opinions. 
While I can certainly appreciate an open dialogue, it seems that in the interest of “entertainment” this celebrity doctor walks a fine line between the opinions of a few with the evidence of scientific research.  By the simple nature of him being a doctor himself, people will listen, which accounts for the 3.7 million viewers to his show daily.  However, the concerns I have are not with the sharing or discussing of information, or even the questioning of current medical beliefs.  It remains important to medical advancement that we use this kind of dialogue to direct us in further research to prove various hypotheses.  My concerns are that when mass media starts involving the lay people in this medical conversation, it is easy for many of us to confuse suggestion of evidence with proven research.  
Dr. Oz’s website includes small print that clarifies that his website is for “information and entertainment purposes only”.  However, I feel that it can be misleading to have information that is not substantiated by scientific evidence used for entertainment purposes.   The disservice comes when the medical profession puts celebrity status and sensational media tactics above their duty to serve the public well being.  Please read the Chicago Tribune article and let me know your thoughts.


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