Pop Culture

Why Dr. Oz Is Not a Healthy Alternative to Oprah

Now that the Oprah Winfrey Show is good and over (and after that weirdly preachy final interview with herself, I’m thinking not a moment too soon), many of us who find ourselves at home in the afternoon are asking, “What the heck am I going to watch at 4 p.m.” (or whenever Oprah plays in your local market)? In the final days leading up to the Opracalypse, it was announced that her one-time in-house medical expert, Dr. Mehmet Oz, would be taking over her time slot in many major markets with his already in-session Dr. Oz Show. While many people have their issues with Oprah, the switch from her version of positive spirituality to Dr. Oz’s health advice is not good news for their shared largely female audience.

As someone who works/cares for her children from home, I have, on more occasions than I’m willing to admit, been bored enough to sit through Dr. Oz’s show. Although Dr. Oz is a cardiologist by trade, he’s built his celebrity on scaring/charming women into making health care decisions based on the word of a doctor who has never actually examined them. I’m no doctor myself, but here’s a run down of the red flags that have popped up during my time watching the Dr. Oz Show.

1. Do you have an ache or pain? It’s probably CANCER!

I will not deny that cancer is a horrible disease that has affected many people. I will also not deny that early detection can save lives. What does not save lives, however, is telling people at the top of the show that a small and common symptom is probably cancer, so that they’ll stick around for the entire show and self-diagnose. Knowing the symptoms of various cancers is important and seeing your doctor regularly is important, too. But running to the doctor every time you have indigestion or some muscle pain is not only stressful on patients and doctors, but also cost prohibitive for most people. So what you end up with is a bunch of worried housewives thinking they have cancer, but not being able to get it checked out. Thanks, Dr. Oz!

2. Weight is the most important indicator of health.

Dr. Oz does tend to do the full rundown on the overweight patients that he features, testing for blood pressure problems and diabetes, but in his mind, weight is all-important. He talks about weight a lot and not just in relation to exceptionally at-risk patients. For Oz, weight is the thing, which brings us to…

3. Supplements and super-foods.

Maybe I’m out to lunch, but every doctor I’ve seen has told me it’s better to have a healthy and balanced diet than to rely on a bunch of crazy supplements. Dr. Oz’s advice? Eat a bunch of wacky and expensive supplements and super-foods rather than trying to balance your fruits and veggies with your carbs and meats. Not because they’re necessarily healthy, but because they will help you to lose weight. Do you like to sometimes eat bread rather than acai berries? Too bad, sister, you’re going to end up fat and dead at an early age.

4. Pawing and Kissing Audience Members.

I will admit that Mehmet Oz is not a wholly unattractive fellow. But somehow he thinks that his fans’ affection towards him gives him license to turn into the Richard Dawson of the medical show circuit. He calls women out from the audience, gives them a creepy smooch on the cheek (or sometimes the lips), asks them about their hemorrhoids and then shamelessly flirts with them as he forces them to dress up like a piece of poop and demonstrate the havoc feces wreaks as it exits the anus. Say what you will about Oprah, but she provided her audiences with a sexually neutral, safe space and never made anyone dress up like a turd.

Dr. Oz is not the new Oprah. He’s not even the new Dr. Phil. Vote with your remote controls (as I obviously have not) and for the love of Pete, go visit a real doctor rather than taking the advice of  a doctor who is playing celebrity on the TV.

By Sissy Larue

30-something, mother-of-two, former rock 'n' roll reporter, currently into retro house-wifey things, bad TV and any movie that I can sneak out of the house to watch.

10 replies on “Why Dr. Oz Is Not a Healthy Alternative to Oprah”

Oh, and I forgot to add, his “Embarrassing Questions” segment. Got a question about your period? Embarrassing! Gas or stomach issues? Embarrassing! Sexual health? Super embarrassing.

Telling women that they should be embarrassed about symptoms is only going to deter them from seeing an actual doctor. It’s ridiculous and dangerous.

Oh, Dr. Oz. What would day time television do without your fear-mongering pseudoscience? I lost any shred of respect for Oz when he brought Joe Mercola. Any medical professional with a shred of decency wouldn’t go near an anti-vaccine, HIV denying quack like that.

Maybe this is unfair of me (but then again maybe its not), but anytime I see a “Dr.” of any sort on a national or network TV show, I automatically discredit most of what they say as sensationalism and mentally label the Dr. as a sell out. The producers and writers of these shows don’t want everyday, humdrum, tried and true health advice. They want SENSATION and HYPE and FEAR and DRAMA. Otherwise the ratings would go in the toilet.

Oh, Dr. Oz. Every time I think of him I think of my poor mom. She is so, completely dedicated to women’s breast health and cancer awareness and makes sure her patients understand why they are seeing her for a mammogram and why they’re having to undergo more testing and how it works, and every once in a while, Dr. Oz will talk about THYROID CANCER FROM SCREENING MAMMOGRAMS and for three days my mom has to get everyone a thyroid guard. Yes, it’s important to know that there are risks when you are exposed to radiology, but seriously. My mom watches Dr. Oz when he’s going to talk about some new breast cancer procedure or worry so that she knows what her patients are talking about and can handle their concerns.

I know that it is super important to be informed. Really. But sometimes the fear mongering gets out of control, you know? Right, you are exposed to small amounts of radiation. (And yeah, they squish your boobs, I know, I went through it too at 23.) But mammograms also help detect cancer. Some things are worth the risk.

I hope no one interprets this as callousness. I do respect the concerns of patients and I do hope that someday there is a way to screen for cancer that does not involve toxicity. But I also just love my mom, and I don’t think her patients realize how much she loves them. She prays for each of her patients every night. How many doctors do that?

Amen! This and The Doctors are such blatant fear-mongering to women (a few “man” episodes thrown in every now and then), it is shameful what they can get away with. It’s just the same show day after day, you don’t even need to see it that many times to get that. Olive oil on wheat toast for b-fast, I get it OZ!

What fascinates me about The Doctors, and it truly does fascinate me, is how they use product placement and shame to promote various products and procedures invented by close friends of the doctors on the show. The worst offender is that over-tanned plastic surgery doctor, but even Dr. Hottie (I don’t think he’s hot, but that’s the nickname my mom and I gave him) has come up with some really stupid shit about what they do in the ER. And don’t get me started on how that pediatrician never addresses parents; it’s always “moms need to know this” and “moms should never do that.” Dads I guess just get to drive the kid around and occasionally give a pat on the back to the little tyke? Oh and pay for shit like the stuff that is promoted on the show.

The gyno isn’t much better, and she’s all about bikini waxing. It makes me think she’d rather be running a spa than a medical practice, and all women to her are pre-pregnant. ARGH. That show. Sometimes I just can’t look away, though.

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