Can Dr. Oz Make You Sick?

Mehmet Oz, more popularly known as Dr. Oz on his daytime television talk show, purports to give his audience health tips and advice to improve their lives. But for years Oz has earned a reputation for dealing in bad science and New Age myth, sometimes with dangerous results.

In a segment on his March 13 show, Oz stated one of the common questions I get asked is should I worry about mercury in tuna? The answer is yes.

The answer is no.

Dont take our word for it. Tuna falls far below recommended mercury levels as adopted by the FDA, which themselves feature a built-in safety threshold of 1000%–meaning youd have to consume ten times more tuna than recommended to approach levels associated with hypothetical harm.

The fact is there has never been a single documented case of mercury poisoning in the United States caused by eating seafood. So when Oz tells his audience that tuna poses a threat to their health, hes not just engaging in unscientific lifestyle advice. Hes putting people at risk.

The UN, World Health Organization, American Heart Association, and the Food and Drug Administration have all noted that eating fish is vital to maintaining the health of the heart and brainand experts agree that the only thing we have to fear about seafood is that Americans are eating dangerously little of it, with consumption rates tanking in large part due to irresponsible fearmongering like Ozs.

One study by Harvard University estimated that 84,000 preventable deaths occur each year due to a lack of seafood consumption.

Worse yet, Oz has been on the wrong side of fish science for quite some time. As we have identified here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, Oz has relatedly put his viewers at risk with his advice.

Luckily, the public is starting to catch up. A number of damning investigations into Ozs advice have shown his willingness to engage in garbage science time and again. The British Medical Journal found a whopping 54% of Ozs segments are not backed up by any peer-reviewed medical journals, or are contradictory to current best practices. Slate has described Ozs work as unproven or disproven irresponsible and border[ing] on quackery. A review of Ozs work by Vox lead to the author concluding “that, on balance, the bulk of what he has to say is misleading at best, and total nonsense at worst.” And when Mr. Oz spoke to members of Congress on Capitol Hill, Senator Clair McCaskill noted that “the scientific community is almost monolithic[ally] against you.

Ozs show should be recognized for what it is: a piece of lifestyle entertainment. But in this case, its entertainment that should come with a warning label.