The total number of doctors expressing their lack of faith in Dr. Mehmet Oz is growing exponentially. Nearly two weeks ago, 10 doctors sent a letter to the dean of Columbia University’s department of surgery formally pushing for Oz’s dismissal as a cardiothoracic surgeon. Now, a new poll shows over 1,000 doctors feel the same.
The poll, hosted by the physician social networking site SERMO, included 2,020 doctors in an open-forum-style debate, hosted in a virtual doctors’ lounge. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said Dr. Oz. should just resign from his position at Columbia, while 21 percent said he should resign and also have his license revoked. Nineteen percent said they respected him as a physician and no action should be taken.
Opposition to Dr. Oz began as a slow accumulation over the last several years. Then, last June, the backlash solidified into a formal hearing before the Senate, in which Sen. Claire McCaskill took Oz to task for promoting the “miracle” cure of green coffee bean extract. On multiple other occasions, the doctor has been criticized for making outlandish claims about the products featured on his show.
“We are taught to first do no harm,” said one SERMO user. “Why on earth would Dr. Oz sell himself for ‘Dr. Oz’ products that are not scientifically proven to be of any benefit?”
In their letter to Columbia, the doctors called Oz a “quack” and claimed he demonstrated an “egregious lack of integrity” when it came to promoting products. In response to the letter, on a recent episode Oz defended himself with his first amendment right, saying “I vow to you right here and right now, we will not be silenced.”
Not all comments in the SERMO discussion were negative. Some even praised Oz’s ability as a surgeon. “He truly cares about patients, and I have performed well-done medical research with him,” said another user. “As a heart and lung surgeon, I respect him.” However, when it comes to his on-air persona, the respect tends to fall off. “I cringe when he talks about a pill containing some combination of herbs, roots, and chemicals that solves any problem,” the same user continued.
Much of the recent disapproval stems from Oz’s stance on the use of genetically modified organisms in food. While GMOs have long been misunderstood by the general public, to many scientists the truth is clear: They pose no harm to public health. And following through with Dr. Oz’s recommendations to put GMO labels on food — so people can make more well-informed choices — would be unnecessary and alarmist, they claim.
Others in SERMO voiced concerns that the initial letter didn’t intend to spark earnest scientific debate as much as engage in mud-slinging. The lead author of the letter, Dr. Henry Miller, has written extensively on GMOs safety and has open ties to agribusiness giant Monsanto. In his recent episode, Oz called out other co-signees as having relationships with big industries, such as Big Tobacco.
“The letter … is actually quite chilling because it seems like a clumsy attempt to get us squawking amongst ourselves,” wrote a SERMO user. “Who are the sell-outs who signed that letter? What was their agenda since they don't even work at Columbia? I found their connections to Big Tobacco and Monsanto very unsavory.”