Junk science has exploded thanks to the Internet. It’s easier than ever to strike fear in the hearts of consumers by using words like “toxic” or worse, “cancer” in association with a given product. Some of you may remember the Alar hoax. Nowadays, junk science finds willing advocates in form of uninformed celebrities who endorse their misguided causes. The latest example of embracing myth and fear over truth and reason is Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Dr. Oz has cynically leveraged his celebrity status into becoming an irresponsible spokesman against products Americans use daily, whose safety is beyond question. He’s disgraced his status as physician by becoming an agent of fear, rather than an agent of healing.
Even worse, the mainstream media perpetuates junk science without vetting anything Dr. Oz says. They report his nonsense, but never the criticism of it. Nor does the MSM bother to investigate the anti-capitalist group supporting him.
Dr. Oz has irresponsibly generated public fear about dozens of safe products…and by “safe”, I mean scientific studies with rigorous protocols that have determined they are exactly that:
What the … ? Is he serious? I’m afraid so. He recently made the outrageous assertion that apple juice is unsafe because of the amount of total arsenic found in it. The EPA, he says, permits 10 parts per billion (ppb) of arsenic in water, but has no standards for apple juice., so he uses the same 10ppb as the toxicity level for apple juice.
Water is not apple juice.
Not only does the FDA permits 23ppb of total arsenic in apple juice, but virtually every step along the supply chain tests for arsenic levels. Even in China, farmers are trained on how to properly cultivate apples and arsenic levels in soil are measured. When the apple concentrate arrives in the U.S., the FDA conducts random checks. Manufacturers then rehydrate the concentrate into juice, and test every lot. If total arsenic exceeds 23ppb, they toss it.
Oz’s report was so misleading report that the FDA took the unprecedented step of debunking the claim publicly. The FDA also reminds us that only inorganic arsenic, as opposed to organic arsenic, is toxic, and that dearest Dr. Oz tested for total arsenic. In addition, the FDA did the same testing on one brand’s apple juice that Dr. Oz did, and came up with results that showed ninety percent less total arsenic. As the FDA responded to Oz, “The analysis of foods can pose a challenge to analytical laboratories and seemingly minor variations in sample treatment and analysis can have a significant effect on results.”
As Rick Cristol, President of the Juice Products Association told me, “The Juice Products Association, its member companies and even the FDA provided Dr. Oz Show producers with substantial information to develop a factually accurate program. Yet, Dr. Oz chose instead to frighten the public with misleading and inaccurate information, that the former Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control, and now a broadcast reporter, described as yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”
Yet the mainstream media pays no attention to any of this. They just perpetuate the fear by reporting on what Dr. Oz had to say — not his critics.
Fish and Mercury
You will not turn into a thermometer by eating fish. The FDA has concluded that, “For most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern.” Indeed, have a look at this massive study out of Harvard University, which concluded, “… the researchers found no association between mercury exposure and higher risk of cardiovascular disease.” A long-term study conducted in the far-flung Seychelles Islands concluded, “… prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from maternal fish consumption has found no consistent adverse developmental effects in the children. The mothers studied consumed fish a mean of 12 times per week…”
Dr. Oz, however, has made consistently false, inaccurate, or misleading statements on this topic. Personally, I trust Dr. Oz as a cardiothoracic surgeon, not as a toxicologist, chemist, biochemist, or fisherman.
As someone with a background in chemistry, who has worked long hours in laboratories with many chemicals, I pay close attention to every substance I expose myself to. In the case of fragrances, I did my due diligence and they are quite safe (and here’s why).
Yet Dr. Oz, on the “Elliott in the Morning” radio show on WWDC-FM on August 17th, claims:
“…any kind of fragrance…is made of one of 3,000 possible ingredients. They don’t have to tell you what they are and they cause all kinds of allergies, skin problems, and lung irritation. They can even disrupt your hormones…fragrances have been shown over and over again to be irritating to the human body.”
Let’s stop there, Chicken Little. There has never been a single scientific study by any non-partisan entity, using a metholodogically sound protocol, that has proven or suggested that fragrances disrupt hormones. While it’s possible that a tiny percentage of people may have an allergy to a given ingredient, it’s also possible that that same tiny percentage will be struck by lightning. But “over and over again”? There is no evidence of any such thing.
Here’s the kicker from Oz:
” …anything that has that kind of smell to it, that’s artificial, even though it smells natural, it’s not.”
Uh …. A large number of the 3,000 items used in fragrances are “naturally occurring.” In other words, they are literally natural. As in, “found in nature.” Dr. Oz sounds confused. I guess that’s why a cardiothoracic surgeon shouldn’t dabble in toxicology. By the way, Dr. Oz could also use some common sense — why would fragrance makers knowingly harm their customers? Bad for business, dontcha think?
Dr. Oz’s scare tactics include an assault on parabens, calling it a “potentially harmful chemical” that will disrupt your hormones even though a toxicology study proved that “it is biologically implausible that parabens could increase the risk of any estrogen-mediated endpoint, including effects on the male reproductive tract or breast cancer.”
So why would Dr. Oz spread such rubbish? Because he puts on a show five days a week and runs out of bona fide science and medicine programming. You must keep feeding the beast. Fear sells. And it sells big-time.
Which explains why The Environmental Working Group is working with Dr. Oz. This anti-capitalist “non-profit” organization is funded by the organics industry, whose aim is to put non-organic competing companies out of business by getting people to switch to more expensive organic solutions. Their strategy is fearmongering. Their tactics are to produce “research” that is unadulterated nonsense, so much so that they are rightly ridiculed as the “Endlessly Wrong Group“. They do really loony things like blaming animals for modern day diseases.
In my opinion, Dr. Oz is willfully misleading the public, because real scientific evidence is easily available to discount his assertions. What’s more, as a physician, he’s perfectly capable of reading and understanding the medical literature.
The final accomplice in this pitchforks-and-torches campaign is the mainstream media. Because Oz’s show appears on hundreds of local stations (known as “syndication”), those stations have incentive to promote Dr. Oz to generate ratings. The most effective way to do this is through the local news. Instead of doing what real journalists would do – debunk Dr. Oz’s lies and expose his link to EWG – they promote him! In this case, it may not even be an ideological issue, but worse – the subordination of truth to revenue.
What about the national news? Where is the coverage of EWG and its agenda? Why hasn’t there been an investigative report into whether any money is flowing between EWG and Dr. Oz? Because the mainstream media has no interest in undermining a water-carrier for a Leftist front group. All we get is a Time Magazine cover page article that abandoned its responsibility to “report” on Dr. Oz’s “cancer scare” accurately, further lionizing him.
My advice – don’t believe celebrity doctors. Do your own research (preferably not on Google). Trust that nothing toxic is hiding in your home nor a boogeyman in your closet.