Why You Should Take Dr. Oz’s Health Advice with a Bag of Salt

Whether it’s dealing with lawsuits, showing disturbing images or simply dishing out medical advice, there’s no question ‘The Dr. Oz Show,’ garners a lot of public attention. As a talk show, it also relies on a certain level of participation. “Lucky” fans have the opportunity to talk directly with Dr. Oz himself, and get the medical attention/publicity they desire to confront contentious or unusual ailments. But perhaps they shouldn’t.

A new study, published in the British Medical Journal by a group based out of the University of Alberta, analyzed 40 randomly selected episodes of Dr. Oz from 2013. The study found that roughly one third of the show’s recommendations were supported by evidence (believable or somewhat believable), while evidence was not found for over 31% of recommendations, and contradictory for 9%.

Recommendations made on medical talk shows often lack adequate information on specific benefits or the magnitude of the effects of these benefits. Approximately half of the recommendations have either no evidence or are contradicted by the best available evidence. Potential conflicts of interest are rarely addressed. The public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows.

In addition, only 40% or recommendations were accompanied by a specific benefit, with even fewer recommendations joined by discussion on the magnitude of benefit (<20%), potential harms (<10%) and costs (<15%).

Viewers should accept this information as a sign to take Dr. Oz’s health advice with more than just a grain of salt.

 

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