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January 2, 2013

Slate: Dr. Oz' miracle diet is malarkey

(Continued)

There are many reasons why this made-for-TV "study" would not be published in any reputable medical journal or meet the approval of Oz's peers: The sample size was minuscule. The women were not followed for long enough to know whether the effects of the supplement were real. They were neither randomly selected nor unaware of what they were taking. They also knew they were going to have to announce their weight in public to millions of viewers. That pressure, combined with a strong placebo effect, was the most likely cause of their shape change, if one can call it that at all.

A legion of doctor-bloggers has dedicated thousands of hours to dissecting and debunking Oz's claims. One of them is Steven Charlap, a preventive medicine physician in Delray Beach, Fla. "Patients were bringing in shopping carts full of different pills," Charlap recalls. "When I would ask them, 'Why do you take a certain pill?' I found very often, the response was, 'I heard about it on the Oz show.' "

To understand where his patients were getting their health advice, Charlap began watching the program. "I was shocked that someone with his credentials — someone who apparently still operates on patients and therefore must still be fully cognizant of a physician's first priority, which is to do no harm — would be recommending all types of different pills, many that had never undergone rigorous scientific scrutiny, as miracle cures or magic pills to a very susceptible audience."

One of the first Oz-approved products Charlap looked into was milk thistle. Oz suggested the supplement as a "quick fix" for nights when you have one too many gin and tonics. The herbal remedy, according to Oz, "boosts your liver's enzyme function, which helps to detoxify the body from excess alcohol."

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