WASHINGTON ― Unlike recent Republican presidential nominees, Donald Trump has not released detailed medical records to the public. Instead, he is discussing his health with Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor a number of other doctors don’t trust.
Oz serves as director of the integrative medicine center at Columbia University. Last year, a group of doctors suggested he should be fired from Columbia’s medical faculty. The group, which included physicians from Stanford University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, pointed to Oz’s “disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine” as well as his “egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments.” They concluded that “members of the public are being misled and endangered.” (In response, Oz accused some of the doctors of having their own conflicts of interest, and said “we provide multiple points of view, including mine, which is offered without conflict of interest.”)
Trump, who has his own quacky medical theories ― he’s repeatedly suggested that vaccines cause autism ― seems to think Oz is a qualified person with whom to discuss his health. In an episode that aired Thursday, Trump discussed the results of a recent physical performed by his longtime physician, Harold Bornstein, who once paid more than $86,000 to settle a malpractice lawsuit.
On the show, Trump said, “I feel as good today as I did when I was 30,” and compared himself to NFL player Tom Brady. That same day, the Trump campaign released a one-page letter from Bornstein to go along with the show.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who is the subject of numerous health-related conspiracy theories, has also released some, but not all of her medical information. And while the lack of medical transparency from both candidates has been fairly atypical for a presidential campaign, Clinton has gone further than Trump. She’s certainly taken the process of disclosure more seriously.
When asked by The Huffington Post why Trump feels Dr. Oz is the appropriate person to reassure Americans that he is medically fit for the presidency — and why Trump won’t release more detailed medical records —Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks insisted that Trump has “released his records.”
“Dr. Oz did not perform the exam,” she added, “they merely discussed it.” (A press release claims Dr. Oz “took Mr. Trump through a full review of systems,” including family medical history.)
Oz has come under fire for misleading the public long before Trump appeared on his show. In 2014, BMJ, a British medical journal, published an analysis of recommendations made on “The Dr. Oz Show” and found that less than half were supported by evidence. Senators grilled Oz that same year for praising questionable weight loss supplements, like green coffee extract.
“The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called miracles,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said at the time. The dustup prompted comedian John Oliver to suggest that Oz change the name of his show to, “Check this shit out, with some guy named Mehmet.”
Press contacts for “The Dr. Oz Show” did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Oz has also run afoul of the Food and Drug Administration. In 2011, the agency sent a letter to his show about a program he did on high levels of arsenic in apple juice. The FDA said its own test results did not support the findings of the show and “it would be irresponsible and misleading to suggest that apple juice contains unsafe amounts of arsenic.”
According to Slate, “Among scientists, Oz is known for his anti-genetic-engineering propaganda, which he promotes regularly on his TV program in concert with outspoken biotech opponents who lack medical or scientific backgrounds.” (Oz has said, “I do not claim that GMO foods are dangerous, but believe that they should be labeled like they are in most countries around the world.”)
Dr. Eric Rose, who hired Oz in 1986, told the New Yorker that while he considered Oz “a fine surgeon,” he would no longer send a patient to him for an operation. “Mehmet is now an entertainer. And he’s great at it. People learn a lot, and it can be meaningful in their lives,” he said. “But that is a different job.”
He added, “sometimes Mehmet will entertain wacky ideas.”