|Dr. Oz interviews Joe Mercola on his show.|
- Himalayan salt is far better for you than regular salt. Coincidentally, Mercola sells the good salt.
- Vitamin D is "the new silver bullet for cancer." No, it's not. Not even a little bit.
- Homeopathy cured a boy of autism. Of course Mercola doesn't provide any proof of this, only a testimonial. This is not even remotely plausible, since homeopathic preparations are just sugar pills.
I could provide many more examples, but this should be enough to demonstrate that I'm not making this stuff up.
Mercola is also one of the loudest voices and worst offenders in the anti-vaccine movement. Among other misinformation, he claims that the hepatitis vaccine causes autism, and his website urges people to use his supplements instead of getting vaccinated.
So how do I know Mercola is worried? He's appearing on the Dr. Oz Show on Monday, February 10 (the day after I'm writing this) to talk about multivitamins. Apparently his 10 minute segment wasn't enough, so he posted an article on his website with the "Information I couldn't share" on Dr. Oz's show.
Does the article explain why multivitamins are actually good for you? Well, no. Most of the article is a big red herring, in which he argues that supplements should not be regulated as drugs, because "we have all the regulations we need." Then he contradicts himself and says that the FDA already regulates supplements. (It doesn't - or to be more precise, the FDA does not require supplement makers to prove their products work. It can only step in if the products start to kill people. This is what Mercola calls regulation.) Besides, he says, supplements are harmless. As evidence, he cites a press release from a pseudoscientific organization that claims "no deaths from supplements in 27 years."
Not surprisingly, Mercola doesn't cite any actual science to support his claims. In contrast, several very large studies in major medical journals, cited in my own columns last month and last October, show that routine supplementation with multivitamins, especially with the megadoses that many people take, can indeed cause genuine harm. Those same studies showed that if you don't have a deficiency, there's simply no benefit to taking most vitamins. Mercola's response is to cite opinion pieces from his own website that simply assert, without any evidence, that the studies are wrong.
In other words, Mercola's response is "Oh yeah?" He then goes off on a tangent and launches an irrelevant ad hominem attack on noted vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit.
Why has Dr. Oz repeatedly had Joe Mercola on his show? This is a tough one. Does Oz believe that autism is caused by vaccines, something Mercola has claimed repeatedly over the years? Does he understand that Mercola's anti-vaccination campaign leads to genuine harm? Does he know that the FDA has repeatedly issued warnings to Mercola to demand that he stop making false claims about his vitamins and supplements, as Chicago Magazine reported?
Or does Dr. Oz keep inviting Mercola back because he knows Mercola has a big audience that will increase his own viewership?
Despite my past criticism of Dr. Oz, I still think he has a better grasp of science than Joe Mercola. He also reassures viewers constantly that he doesn't sell the products that appear on his show. And yet Oz is giving a platform to someone who makes huge profits selling products based on unproven claims. By having Mercola on his show, Oz is giving him free publicity and helping him sell those same products. And whether or not Oz agrees with Mercola, he is helping to give credibility to Mercola's wildly inaccurate and dangerous anti-vaccine claims.