Arsenic, Apples and Dr Oz

By Michael Edmonds 17/09/2011

The Dr Oz show is a health related talk show, co-produced by Oprah Winfrey, which is sometimes criticized for promoting “health” advice which is not evidence based. Host, Dr Mehmet Oz, is a cardiothoracic surgeon and teaching professor at Columbia University which perhaps lends undue credibility to some of his views.

A recent show by Dr Oz claiming that apple juice in America contains high levels of arsenic has drawn fire from the US Food and Drug Administration who have claimed that he is “scaremongering” and getting the science wrong. A news report covering the basic arguments follows. (Note – embedding seems to be disabled so just click on the link in the youtube player.

I’m always wary of shows such as Dr Oz for several reasons. First, the whole presentation of the show appears to be designed to hype up the audience emotively, rather than to inform or educate them. Such emotive manipulation can include implying government & big business conspiracy, ineptitude or indifference. Also, the show presents limited evidence for many of its views and some come across as glib and inaccurate, for example, sometimes relying on the “natural is good, artificial is bad” simplistic approach to health.

The apple and arsenic episode can be seen here.

Personally I don’t drink much juice because it has far too much sugar in it. Perhaps parents should be more worried about the effects of the levels of sugar in juice more than minute traces of arsenic?