The doctors who say “Everything You Know About Cholesterol Is Wrong”
That was the title of the lead segment of the Dr. Oz show on 12-11-12. While he occasionally presents some very helpful information (See my “home run” blog below), his typical audience has no idea what to believe. That’s because the information presented on Tuesday is likely to be contradicted on Wednesday or Thursday.
But let’s not blame Dr. Oz. We must remember that he is in the entertainment business—not the health-promotion business. If he just talked about healthy stuff, his show would be cancelled in less than a month.
But the sad part of this story is that millions of Americans take everything they hear on his show as fact—and that could sometimes be hazardous to their health. Confusion over clarity is not good for promoting health. But it is good for making money.
So what about this new book, The Great Cholesterol Myth? Dr. Oz interviewed the two authors, a cardiologist and a doctor of nutrition and simply asked them questions. From their book’s description on Amazon, here are a few examples of things that Jonny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra covered in the interview:
Myth–High cholesterol is the cause of heart disease.
Fact–Cholesterol is only a minor player in the cascade of inflammation which is a cause of heart disease.
Myth–High cholesterol is a predictor of heart attack.
Fact–There is no correlation between cholesterol and heart attack.
Myth–Lowering cholesterol with statin drugs will prolong your life.
Fact–There is no data to show that statins have a significant impact on longevity.
While portions of the above statements might be true, that is not the point of this blog today. My point is that the multi-million-person viewing audience was only more confused about nutrition by the end of the 20-minute segment.
That’s because they never got really clear about exactly what one should eat to promote vibrant health. But they did imply that grass-fed beef and free-range chickens were perfectly healthy foods. And I could tell from the enthusiastic cheers from the audience that they were loving what they were hearing about their bad habits. To be fair, Dr. Bowden did encourage the audience to eat lots of fruits and vegetables—and he did look fairly healthy himself.
So who is Dr. Jonny Bowden and Dr. Stephen Sinatra? Well, you can do your own Google search and find out for yourself. After learning that Dr. Bowden got his doctorate at Clayton College, I found the following on Dr. Stephen Barrett’s QuackWatch website (See link below):
Many non-accredited correspondence schools issue “degrees” and certificates which suggest that the recipient is a qualified expert who can provide rational advice about nutrition or health care. These documents are promoted as though they are equivalent in meaning to established credentials—which they are not. One of the most prolific was the Clayton College of Natural Health (CCNH), of Birmingham, Alabama, which offered “degrees” and certificates in “natural health,” traditional naturopathy, “holistic nutrition” and related subjects. CCNH described itself as “the world’s leading college of natural health” with over 25,000 graduates. But, in July 2010, it suddenly announced that it was closing. This article explains why I recommend avoiding its alumni. (See link below to read more)
The Bottom Line. Although the Oz Show can be very entertaining, you should not consider it your primary source of dietary information. Do your own research and discover the legitimacy, credibility and authenticity that you deserve.
After sharing this blogpost with my esteemed colleague, Dr. Campbell, this was his comment:
It really is about ‘confusion over clarity,’ as you have repeatedly said. This tactic is used by those who want to do their thing without having to defend it. Stealth under the cover of darkness. Aimless wandering in a dense fog. And getting someone with a fake ‘PhD’ to create more fog is all part of the game. Disgusting. —T. Colin Campbell, PhD
Finally, I do urge you to check out the first two blogs below about two great Oz segments. The first features a group of women who tested a “prehistoric diet” while living in a tent in New Jersey for just 48 hours. The results were amazing.
The second features Dr. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Neal Barnard and others in a show devoted to the truth about the optimal diet for humans.
- My favorite Oz segment ever. Oz hits a HOME RUN with Julieanna Hever…
- Another great Oz segment. Dr. Oz Show — focusing on plant-based, whole foods
- Dr. Stephen Barret’s article about Bowden’s alma mater, Clayton College
Handy 5-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
- Dr. Campbell’s new book: WHOLE, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.
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“Plant based diet” to me is a code word for the government’s unhealthy food pyramid, or any diet that tries to get us to avoid proteins and healthy fats. As a nation we’ve gone down the low fat plant based route for 50 years and you see a nation with expanding waistlines, explosion of diabetes and poor health. Big food and pharma makes a fortune peddling cheap high carb foods, and the statin drugs used to counteract the high cholesterol results of such a diet. Sadly, cholesterol is not the disease, it is an indicator of the underlying killer, inflammation.
For all naysayers of Dr. OZ..
He is bringing many topics..especially nutrition to the masses, and making his audience think about what they are doing and the food they are eating. This is a real issue in the U.S. To those who are validating with their own M.D… be aware chances are very good that your provider has
Zero hours of nutrition.. of course he/she will agree with Dr. Oz..
My point is do your own research and know your own body.
And stay away from sites like Quackwatch.. stephen barrett is an embarrassment to healthcare.. dont let someone influence you that a. Doesnt practice medicine and b.has so many personal biases it makes his opinions invalid..
So do your own research.. this is the only body you get!!!!!
Before i buy any book from Jonny Bowden a Nutritionist, I decided to do my own researh.. a soonest i read the myth and fact of the interview about Cholesterol…………. I got my answer……. these two guys are in the right track………..Every Dr should study Nutrition instead of pushing pills…… I worked in the medical field for over 38 years………I learned and saw enough!!!!!
That’s not what I got out of watching that particular episode at all. I watched that episode about the cholesterol. I did not at all feel like I could now eat “anything” I wanted. What I got out of that episode is that our cholesterol levels aren’t showing the entire picture. And that we need to request from our doctor to get a LDL particle size cholesterol test. It’s the size of the particles that matter. I think this blog post is yet another very casual view of the Dr. Oz Show. There are only 40 minutes in each episode (20 minutes commercials). Do they really have to go over exactly how you should be eating in every single episode? If you truly watched the show on a regular basis you’d understand that. I don’t need to be told on a show about LDL particle testing about what foods are best for me. There are a zillion other Dr. Oz episodes that go over this thank you very much.
I’ve been following Dr. Bowden’s “unleash your thin” program for 6 months now, have lost a total of 50 pounds with about 20 more to go. It has been a consistent weight loss. My recent blood work, all came back well within normal ranges and better, along with the ratios in excellent range. My MD told me to keep on doing whatever it is I’m doing because the numbers don’t lie!
I also have some of Dr. Furhman’s books, and incorporate his plan as well. I feel that when people strictly believe in plant based diets, with no room for animal protein they picture those of us that do eat animal protein to be consuming large quantities, and picture three quarters of our plates filled with a big juicy steak. AND that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
My plate according to UYT dietary guidelines contains 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 beans or whole grain such as quinoa, and then 1/4 protein such as wild caught salmon, grass fed beef, or organically raised poultry. The idea is to stay away from processed foods as much as possible, and eat whole organic as much as possible. I use fruit and nuts for snacks.
One last point I want to share: when I did try to cut out animal protein from my diet, I never felt healthy! I felt tired, weak, and no energy. I had no energy to exercise and was always ready to sleep! I found I had to use large amounts of supplements to mask my symptoms. These types of diet programs never work for me because within a month or so I have to go off it. When I start adding back animal protein I start feeling stronger and back to health.
Dr. Bowden’s program works for me, and I no longer consider it a diet but a way of life. I also love that he teaches about the brain’s relationship to food, and how to overcome food addictions, and negative behaviors.
My proof is not only in my numbers from lab results, but also from the numbers on my scale and measuring tape, but more importantly, on how I feel! Healthy and Strong!
Thank you Lisa… I just purchased the program and was hoping to read some positive feedback. You give me hope!
Great post, Jim. I literally was laughing out loud watching the video, what a bunch of toxic misinformation these guys are peddling. How much is Big Pharma, etc. paying these guys to push statins and disease? I just wonder… and can they actually believe what they’re saying, or do they just not care? As you and Dr. Campbell said… truly disgusting.
Big Pharma? Pushing statins? I heard them arguing against the overuse of statins.
Hey lisa. This is typical of viewers who don’t like Dr. Oz. They don’t even watch the show regularly, and when they do they evidently don’t even pay attention. I wish also that people would understand that Dr. Oz presents us with new ideas and findings. Most of the time it is a guest with a new book that comes on the show. It would be boring if Dr. Oz talked about the same stuff all the time. I like the new information that he presents even if I don’t follow up on it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.
I just watched most of the Dr Oz segment from the link in your blog post.
Horrifying! Countless inaccuracies from Dr Oz and from both of these “doctors!” I never heard them actually state what “normal” cholesterol is. “Normal” in the US is under 200, so their statement that half the people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol is accurate. Dr Esselstyn proved that cholesterol under 150 is heart attack proof… but this isn’t mentioned.
Yes, our bodies DO need cholesterol for healthy function, but what they DON’T state is that our bodies manufacture all the cholesterol we need, and that we don’t need to ingest ANY from animal/food sources. This type of presentation is criminal. They’ve taken a tiny amount of fact and twisted into an Adkins-like permission slip to eat all the terribly unhealthy foods. It seems to me that these doctors represent all the physicians who are scared of the plant-based nutrition success, and are trying to push their money-making agenda of “eat whatever you want” to appease the masses. Dr Oz just lost all credibility in my eyes. That he could have doctors Campbell and Esselstyn on his show and then have these two clowns, is unethical.
I don’t watch Dr. Oz, but I’ve read his newspaper articles (co-written with Dr. Michael Roizen), and I’ve got to agree with the “flavor of the month” idea. They seem to take a tiny study and offer it to readers as health promoting. They target this micronutrient or that micronutrient. They also recommend salmon and cow’s milk. Dr. Oz’s credibility with me is zilch.
Dr. Oz has also had segments featuring Dr. Fuhrman that were excellent, but as you say he is the “flavor fo the week” doctor in the entertainment business, not in the health care business.
His shows make it harder for those of us trying to teach plant-based nutrition. While I would love to recommend the few high quality shows, the rest of them cancel those out if people start watching him regularly.