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physicians using the media to fleece the population


quack medicine

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  If I were only interested in making money, I would manufacture a “natural” product, hire a great web designer and an expert in SEO, and advertise to two different groups — those struggling with CHRONIC PAIN and those wanting to LOSE WEIGHT.  It seems that on some level, medical talk shows run on television are doing just this.  Listen to what a recent study from the British Medical Journal (Televised Medical Talk Shows — What they Recommend and the Evidence to Support their Recommendations: A Prospective Observational Study) had to say about the matter in the study’s conclusions.

“Consumers should be skeptical about any recommendations provided on television medical talk shows, as details are limited and only a third to one half of recommendations are based on believable or somewhat believable evidence.  If the shows are perceived as providing medical information or advice, viewers need to realize that the recommendations may not be supported by higher evidence or presented with enough balanced information to adequately inform decision making. Decisions around healthcare issues are often challenging and require much more than non-specific recommendations based on little or no evidence from media health professionals. Patients would do well to ask healthcare providers specific questions about the benefits and harms, along with the magnitude of the effect (in absolute numbers), and the costs and inconveniences of any recommendation.”

I would agree.  For instance, Dr. Oz ran a fabulous program on LEAKY GUT SYNDROME, not long after an absolutely terrible article he did for Time Magazine called What to Eat Now (HERE) — particularly interesting in light of the brand new revelations about Cholesterol (HERE).  The truth is, when finances come into play, you simply can’t trust most recommendations from “movie star” physicians.  Dr. Oz’s recent 50 million dollar fiasco of recommending Green Coffee Beans for Weight Loss is a great recent example.  And as for the last sentence of the conclusion above, I’m very skeptical that this will ever happen.

Firstly, I’m not convinced that the average doctor is keeping abreast of the recent peer-reviewed literature, no matter what the topic.  It’s a big part of the reason I continue to talk about the chasm between medical research and medical practice (HERE).  How else can you explain things like ANTIBIOTIC OVERUSE, ANTI-DEPRESSANT MEDICATIONS, DIABETES MEDICATIONS,  or STATIN DRUGS, in light of the evidence?   And speaking of “evidence,” what have we learned time and time again?  We’ve learned that EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE is whatever the companies with the deepest pockets say it is.  And thirdly, because so much of the advice given on these talk shows revolves around diet or dietary supplements, we have to ask ourselves how well versed your doctor is in this area — because after all, he or she is who the experts on TV are suggesting you talk to about any benefits, harms, effects, and inconveniences?  Unfortunately, we already know that when it comes to nutrition, most physicians don’t know a lot (HERE). 

I’m not for one moment suggesting you don’t listen or watch these types of programs.  The truth is, the authors of the BMJ study would probably say the same things (only worse) about my blog.  What I am suggesting is that you take everything that any doctor tells you with a GRAIN OF SALT and do your own research.  Otherwise you become an easy mark for people who view you as a commodity instead of a desperate person looking for answers.


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