The Wizard of Dr. Oz

Wizard of Oz

Over the last 5 years I have had numerous patients come in and ask me Dr. Oz questions such as can I take OTC hormone (7 keto DHA), or herbal vitamin supplement Y (raspberry ketones), and weight loss Z (Garcinia cambogia).  Dr. Oz is a great cardiothoracic surgeon, with a great academic pedigree and multiple surgical publications. But that’s where I would probably stop as far as his medical advice goes. I don’t think anyone would want their accountant telling them about their car alignment (or more closely related: taking the advice of their podiatrist for a localized brain tumor).  I think that Dr. Oz’s show is very entertaining and even does some good putting homeopatic medications and integrative medicine in a positive light. But when he uses phrases such as “breakthrough”, “revolutionary”, “holy grail”, and “magic” your ears have to perk up. I understand that everyone is looking for a “natural” panacea but a lot of these therapies are either no better than placebo or have potential for harm. Of some of the past products he has endorsed side effects have included kidney toxicity, liver toxicity, and bone marrow suppression. And yes prescription medications have some of the same side effects, but the FDA requires that they list adverse effects. This is just a warning for patients that take everything Dr. Oz says at face value (such as my patient with chronic kidney disease on an ACE-inhibitor and a diuretic taking 3 full strength aspirin a day for a total of 975mg of aspirin causing him to have acute kidney injury). If you want to try anything mentioned in the show follow these steps: 1.) Wikipedia-it 2.) Talk to your doctor 3.) Talk to your pharmacist. This could help prevent a costly side effect, medication interaction, or a waste of your money.

For a good comparison of some of Dr. Oz’s claims vs the available evidence here is a great table by

Take zinc (12-15 mg) daily for weight loss because it reduces hunger by increasing levels of leptin, a key hormone that alerts the body when it is full. – A randomized controlled trial of 56 obese women found zinc supplements caused no significant changes in weight, body mass index, body fat percentage, waist circumference, or leptin levels (Marreiro et al. 2006).
– A randomized controlled trial of 40 obese women found zinc supplements had no effects on body mass index or waist circumference; the only effects found were increased zinc in blood serum and urine (Kim & Lee 2012).
– A retrospective cross-sectional study of 580 women found zinc was not associated with obesity or leptin levels in the overall population; in obese women, zinc was associated with lower leptin levels (Garcia et al. 2012). 
Take omega-3 fatty acid DHA (600-1000 mg) daily from fish oil supplements for many health benefits, including better cardiovascular health. – Multiple systematic reviews found supplements and dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acid did not prevent cardiovascular problems, including stroke, heart attacks, and death; one review found a higher risk of adverse events with omega-3 fatty acid supplements because of gastrointestinal side effects (Kotwal et al. 2012Kwak et al. 2012;Rizos et al. 2012).  No
Take vitamin D (400-1000 IU) daily to prevent various cancers, fight off colds, and slow down aging, along with a variety of other health benefits. – Multiple systematic reviews found inconclusive evidence on whether vitamin D supplements prevent cardiovascular outcomes, cancer and mortality (Pittas et al. 2010Elamin et al. 2011Holick et al. 2011).
– A systematic review by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found vitamin D supplements had no effect on cancer risk; the Task Force recommended against daily supplementation with vitamin D at doses of up to 400 IU unless the individual is vitamin D deficient (Chung et al. 2011Kuehn 2012). 
Take probiotic supplements or fortified foods to regulate the amount of beneficial bacteria in the body, promote digestive health, and normalize bowel movements. – A systematic review of 82 randomized controlled trials found probiotics reduced the risk of certain types of diarrhea, but the results of the trials varied widely (Hempel et al. 2012).
– Multiple systematic reviews found probiotics may help alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, but positive effects are limited to certain strains and included trials that have methodological limitations (McFarland & Dublin 2008Brenner et al. 2009Hoveyda et al. 2009Moayyedi et al. 2010).
– Multiple systematic reviews found conflicting results on the effect of probiotics on colitis (Dendukuri et al. 2005McFarland 2006Pillai & Nelson 2008).
Take a multivitamin daily to ensure getting enough essential vitamins and to prevent heart disease, breast cancer and colon cancer. – Multiple systematic reviews found no meaningful benefits from taking multivitamins to reduce the risk of death and prevent various diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, macular degeneration, and hypertension (Huang et al. 2006Chan et al. 2011Macpherson et al. 2012).
– A randomized controlled trial of 14,641 men found taking daily multivitamins very slightly reduced cancer risk but did not reduce cardiovascular events and death from cardiovascular causes or cancer (Gaziano et al. 2012Sesso et al. 2012).
– A prospective cohort study of 182,099 participants found no significant associations between multivitamins and cardiovascular disease, cancer, or death from any cause (Park et al. 2011).
– A retrospective cross-sectional study of 38,772 postmenopausal women found a strong association between multivitamin supplements and increased risk of death (Mursu et al. 2011).