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Is Dr. Oz a threat to humanity?

There is a medical student from the University of Rochester that is trying to take down Dr. Oz.  He claims that Dr. Oz is harmful.  The harm that this student is claiming is the harm being done from patients that are choosing to stop taking medications and the harm that is interfering with the doctor-patient relationship.  

I've only seen snippets of a few Dr. Oz episodes.  I have heard his name more from patients asking questions about him than I have with actual TV viewing.  Really, I could care less about it but in this instance I want to support and defend him because the student and all his NY medical colleagues that claim harm from him, need to grow up a bit.  There are a number of issues that are going to be a big wake up call to this student when he gets into practice. 

Let's address the claim that the doctor-patient relationship is being harmed.  What this really means is that the patient is not accepting with blind faith the medical advice the doctor is providing.  In the eyes of the doctor, this is harming their relationship with their patient because they can't tell a patient what to do in 3 minutes with a script pad and the patient walks out happy anymore. 

The definition of relationship is: connection, association, or involvement.  This medical student and his medical colleagues fear their lost connection with their patient.  The problem is that their original relationship probably wasn't based on anything other than a need.  The patient had a problem, the doctor gave a prescription for the problem.  Why Dr. Oz is so successful with over 4 million viewers every day is because he is able to make a connection, through a TV screen, with all those people. 

The student even gives an example of a woman in her 60's, with the 'classic' chronic health problems of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. He and his attending physician recommended diabetes drugs.  The woman refused because she wanted to try what Dr. Oz recommended.  The docs tried to change her decision because they claim there was no 'evidence' that the Dr. Oz recommended product would work. 

Relationship rule #1:  LISTEN.  She wants alternatives to your pills and she wants coaching regarding lifestyle.  Interpretation:  She has the 'classic' chronic health problems because she followed the doctor's advice for all those years and and sick and tired of not getting better.  

How do they know the Dr. Oz product won't work?  Did they take the time, with that specific woman, to search PubMed and find out any evidence?  There's over 23 million records dating back to 1966 listed in PubMed.  Surely there is an article or 2 about the Dr. Oz intervention. 

Problem #1 is that the doctor-patient relationship is changing and it's changing fast.  The baby boomer population, which accounts for roughly 1/4 of America's population, known for 'sticking it to the man,' doesn't want to feel like they are being told what to do.  Guess what, all of the generations after that, feel the same way.  

The doctor being the all mighty authority figure is fading fast.  Patients want explanations and dialogue.  They don't want lecture and monologue.  They want to be able to ask questions without feeling like they are idiots.  They want a connection.  Until 'organized medicine' gets this through their dogmatic skull, people are going to turn to TV figures, internet, and keep asking their friends who they like, know, and trust and follow those provider's recommendations.   

Problem #2 is that the sanctity of 'organized medicine' is the main outcome for these attacks on Dr. Oz.  Again, the defiance of the baby boomer population and the generations after hate anything that starts with the words 'organized.'  It doesn't matter if it's medicine, corporations, religion, politics, or even the NCAA.  A large organized body of anything creates a perception of a big, fat bully.  In this case, the big fat bully (the AMA), has grown up, is middle aged, balding and probably suffering from low testosterone.  He's not as scary.  It's like the demise of Bud Kilmer in the classic movie Varsity Blues.   

Am I wrong.  It's stated in plain text. "Organized medicine has an interest in protecting physicians as a profession."  What do they need protection from?  "They want to maintain the prestige, trust, and income that physicians have historically received in the US." If someone has to say, 'I'm prestigious and you should trust me,' that boat has probably already sailed.  It's like when someone says, "but I'm really a nice person." 

Patients want their needs protected first, not the needs of a giant organization.  This is why I have ceased going to seminars put on by chiropractic management organizations.  The seminar is all about how many people the clinic sees, how much money they make, and how much they can charge for the least amount of care given.  I've yet to encounter one that discussed patient outcomes as a way to build a practice.  

The model is something like this.  You as a patient have to attend 3 appointments before you know what's wrong.  You can't know what's wrong unless your spouse is present.  And if you do sign up for care, you have to refer everyone you know into the practice by the end of the 1st week of starting care or you're contributing to the death and destruction of all your friends and family.

The other model of care and is that your recommendations and treatments are based on the type and number of services that can be billed to your insurance company.  Your care is based on reimbursement, not based on need.  

Problem #3 is that 'evidence based medicine' is a loose term.  It's evident that only 37% of what your medical doctor recommends is actually evidence based.   You can't call what Dr. Oz recommends or anything 'alternative' to medicine as non-evidence based when the medical profession can't boast the a majority of evidence.  Remember, there are over 23 million records in PubMed and I highly doubt someone favoring organized medicine researches something non medical unless they are truly interested in the subject or trying to nail people like Dr. Oz to a cross for going against the the 'organized.' 

Evidence is also in the eyes of the beholder.  Let's take Lipitor for example.  There is evidence that Lipitor can lower your cholesterol.  Does that evidence translate into a better, longer life?  NOPE. 

If you break down Lipitor's research into groups of 100 that got Lipitor vs. groups of 100 that got a placebo, the evidence is negligent.  For each 100, they were studied over a 3.5 year period.  At the end of the 3.5 years, there were 2 people that got heart attacks.  In the placebo group, there were 3 people that got heart attacks.  Out of those heart attacks, no one died.  

There's also an asterisk next to Lipitor because those people also received a change in their diet.  Lipitor PLUS a change in diet created 1 less heart attack over a 3.5 year period and no change in deaths. 

In other words, you need to treat 100 people for 3.5 years for only 1 person to benefit.  I guess there is evidence that it worked.  My bad.  The deceptive part is that they report a 50% reduction in heart attacks.  

How do you get a 50% reduction in heart attacks when only 1 in 100 people benefit?  3 minus 2 = 1.  Half of 2 is 1, so therefore a 50% reduction in heart attacks.  Deceive much?

If we are talking about evidence and potential harm, there's plenty of evidence of the harm that medicine does.  Depending on what study you look at, conservatively our healthcare system is the 3rd leading cause of death in America.  Hospital acquired infections account for 100,000 deaths each year alone.  

Despite all the evidence for medical practices, the US still has the lowest health outcomes measures.  Is this because of Dr. Oz and other people giving free advice in mass media format?  Is his advice causing so much harm that our health outcomes continue to be dead last?  Damn you Dr. Oz for being a threat to society.  But let's look a little closer. 

This is an image from the latest health rankings from the Common Wealth Fund.  What kills me is that the article calls for universal health coverage as the way to remedy the poor US outcomes and applauds the steps being taken by Obamacare.   

If you look at the UK column, they are top 3 in every category of healthcare...until you get to the 'healthy lives' category and they are 10 out of 11, just ahead of the US.  It's like McDonald's.  You can serve a ton of people, get the food out fast, be cheap yet have the worst nutrition and be the #1 ranked restaurant on the planet.  

Whereas France is near the bottom of virtually every category except for SAFETY (#2) and HEALTHY LIVES (#1) and they get a failing grade (9th overall).  Shouldn't healthy lives and safety be the deciding rankings of whether a healthcare system is effective?  Aren't our 'evidence-based' practices supposed to produce healthier lives?

Shouldn't the ultimate outcome for any nation be 'More Health, Less HealthCare?'  As we have seen, this is not the case.  Organized medicine is trying 'to maintain the prestige, trust, and income that physicians have historically received in the US.'  The only way this is possible is by keeping people sick.

The good news is that you can decide whether or not to participate.  If you stay healthy, you stay out of the system.  If you decide you like being and staying sick, you can decide to choose that as well and help maintain the prestige and income of your physician.  The choice is yours.  Just be careful which country's healthcare system you choose, you may have great service but not great outcomes. 

Taking the Fear and Worry Out of Parenting.

One of the biggest threats against your health journey is fear and worry.  The easiest way to sell more drugs and vaccines to you is through fear and worry.  

As soon as you induce fear or worry, the logical, communication parts of your brain get bypassed in favor for the emotional limbic system.  It's a fight or flight reaction.  You're never going to look into the mouth of a Black bear and analyze his teeth.  "Maybe it's an old bear and the teeth have all fallen out"....said no one ever that has survived a bear attack.   

Hysteria is easy when talking about health outcomes because there is that fear of the unknown.  

How do you take the fear out of a situation?  You have to take the emotion out of it.  This is easier said than done but very doable and possible.  Why fear is at an all time high is because our society is shifting towards a post-modern type population.  

A modern population is where information is valued over experience.  If I tell you not to touch the stove or you will burn your hand, you will most likely listen and obey. 

A post-modern population is when experience is valued over information.  In this case, I can tell you not to touch the stove but you are either going to find out for yourself or you will play on the experience of someone close to you before you believe me.  Either you have already had to have burned your hand or you know someone that has already burned their hand and can tell you from experience not to touch the hot stove. 

I'm an analytical guy and I don't like either scenario.  I get asked all the time how I am so confident in major decisions in my life?  It's because I crunch numbers.  I mix the information to create my own first hand experience. 

If I am getting anxious about a decision or circumstance, I'll start with worse case scenario and look at the actual odds of that happening. 

For example:  Many people make a decision to drive a motorized vehicle on a daily basis.  There is a risk to this.  The worse case scenario is death by accident.  You would think this would deter people from driving so much but it doesn't?  Why?  Because the actual probability of death from a car accident is very minute. 

It's estimated that there is 42,000 deaths each year from car accidents.  If our population is 315 million, that leaves you with a 0.013% chance of dying by car accident.  In other words, you have a 99.987% chance of living through your car ride.  I'll take those odds in Vegas any day.

How's that working out for you?

I often get a story from someone that tells me about their 'friend' on Facebook that puts a post out asking for advice on a certain health problem.  The storyteller usually gets fired up because they see a bunch of comments that they feel are absolutely idiotic that are steering the person towards worse outcomes.  

Then I get the question of how I would respond.

I say, I wouldn't.  

They look confused and question why not?  I ask them, when was the last time you got into a Facebook comment conversation over a topic that had very separate and distinct viewpoints and came away feeling good about it?

They usually say they haven't.  

That's why I don't comment.  If they direct message me personally and ask their question, I am more than obliged to give my opinion, but in a comment thread?  No thanks.  

If I do get contacted directly, I usually ask 2 questions. 

1. What are you trying?
2. How's that working out for you? 

If someone is doing something I think is totally ridiculous but they feel it's working, then keep on keeping on.  Unless they feel there's a problem, it's going to be very hard to change their mind and all you end up doing is discouraging them.  

This does all depend on the level of relationship you have with that person.    

I always remember a time when I met with a woman that attended a talk of mine.  We sat down for a consultation.  She filled out paperwork and wrote a page worth of health problems she was on, double digit medications, multiple surgeries, and she looked about 70 years of when in reality she was only 52.

Gluten Free FAIL!!

Walk down the aisle of any grocery store and labels that brag about being Gluten Free will smack you in the face.  When this started, I thought it was awesome since we are a 95% gluten free household. 

Now I think it’s getting absolutely ridiculous.  For one, produce and other whole foods that would never contain gluten are now being marketed as gluten free.  Have you seen the gluten free apples?  They are so much better than the apples that contain gluten (I hope you sense the sarcasm).  This just preys on the ignorant and I think this marketing is deceitful.

Another reason is that products that are being marketed as gluten free contain so many other ingredients and chemicals that if you looked at the ingredient list, gluten would be the least of your worries.  Again, the marketers have won because someone sees the gluten free claim and then ignores all the other chemicals.  It may be even overtaking the old ‘low calorie or all natural’ claims.

One of those ‘other’ ingredients is sugar.  The next time you see something gluten free in a box, count how many ingredients that include sugar.  Most often those ingredients end in –ose.  These products get loaded up with sugar to make them taste half way edible.  Pixie Sticks are technically gluten free, eat up.
Third, the FDA’s standard of Gluten Free isn’t really gluten free.  The food must contain 20 or less parts per million.  The problem is that even at these small doses, the body can mount a reaction.  Just look at vaccines.  The antigen (the virus) is often diluted to less than 20 parts per million and the body still has a reaction to produce antibodies.  Don’t get caught thinking that such small amounts have no affect on the body.