Dr. Oz Continues to Sell Snake Oil

Every day, ordinary Americans trust qualified doctors and nutritionists to give them good health and diet advice. Unfortunately, one of America’s most infamous TV doctors abuses that trust. For years, daytime television’s Dr. Oz has used his medical credentials to sell snake oil and bad dietary advice to the American public. Recently, he turned his attention to canned tuna. As always, Oz’s recommendations are a prescription for poor health.

We’re going to debunk these claims again, even though many consumers already knew not to buy into his often-inaccurate advice. As many have pointed out, Dr. Oz has put showmanship ahead of sound medical advice for nearly a decade. The British Medical Journal even analyzed his work back in 2014 and determined that more than half of his medical advice lacks proof or contradicts the best advice. But more on that later.

In a show featuring America’s Test Kitchen host Judie Collin Davidson, Oz repeats long discredited mercury myths about limiting their seafood consumption. This sort of fear mongering may keep television audiences on the edge of their seat, but there’s no scientific evidence to support Oz’s concern. His audience might be surprised to find out that there’s never been a case of mercury poisoning from the normal consumption of commercial seafood recorded in any American Medical Journal.

The truth is, canned tuna is perfectly safe and especially nutritious. Despite Dr. Oz’s baseless scare-tactics, consumer mercury content standards are already extremely rigorous. His recommendation to limit tuna consumption to 12 ounces of light tuna or 4 ounces of white tuna per week is simply not based in facts. Specifically, the FDA’s recommended limit for mercury in seafood has a ten-fold safety-factor built in. To put this in the proper perspective, the FDA’s Net Effects report, which is based on 100 peer-reviewed studies,  found that a pregnant woman – let alone your average consumer – could eat tuna for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day of the week, without worry.

Dr. Oz’s preference for selling his audience snake oil isn’t just wrong, it may be hazardous to their health. The FDA warns that most Americans are eating dangerously low amounts of seafood. To combat this trend, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, urge consumers to eat more fish and recommend tuna as a healthy option. The USDA also recommends that Americans eat at least 2-3 servings of seafood per week. That’s because seafood is rich in important nutrients, such as a vitamins B12 and D, iron, and beneficial omega-3s called EPA and DHA. These nutrients play a key part in heart and brain health.

Despite a wealth of scientific evidence attesting to the health benefits of canned tuna, Dr. Oz seems intent on spreading old wives’ tales. An April 2010 profile in the New York Times Magazine observed that the pressures of producing a daily television show had led Dr. Oz to dispense “a chaotic bazaar of advice, not all of it equally reliable and important.” Another article that appeared that same month in the Chicago Tribune concluded that Oz’s ventures also offer advice that’s at odds with the scientific community.

Over the years, we’ve made multiple efforts to contact him and set the record straight, and he’s ignored our efforts to demand he tell the truth about seafood. It appears that nothing- not even a formal rebuke from Congress– can stop him from giving bad advice to the American public. If Dr. Oz won’t tell the truth to American consumers, we will.  It is long past time this snake oil salesman was held accountable.