Friday, May 15, 2009

Oprah Sucks

And not just because her O magazine has her on every cover. That's just too much of anyone.

She sucks because she puts anti-vaccine, pro-hormone replacement therapy quacks on her show, and she's so influential that women will listen to her. And this is dangerous stuff!

Hormone replacement therapy is one of medicine's most controversial subjects. In 2002, after a period of prescribing HRT routinely to women to improve their energy, sex drive, heart health and bone strength, and to reduce the risk of certain cancers, doctors were forced to do an abrupt about-face. A study known as the Women's Health Initiative, which followed more than 150,000 postmenopausal women starting in 1991, concluded that prolonged HRT (more than two years) increased the risk of heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer. It wasn't what doctors or their patients had hoped for, but it was the scientific truth. Doctors have therefore been recommending that hormone replacement therapy be taken for short periods of time to mitigate those risks.

But what Somers was advocating was radically different from standards of medical care. She admitted to using mega-doses of bioidenticals continuously and aggressively. She started her regimen, she told Winfrey, by rubbing bioidentical estrogen and progesterone creams on her arms, injecting another hormone, estriol, vaginally every day, and topping herself off with 60 different oral supplements. Physicians who may have been watching the show surely winced, but Winfrey was not concerned. "Many people write Suzanne off as a quackadoo," she declared. "But she just might be a pioneer."

It's not the first time Winfrey's advice on health issues has raised concern. In the past, the media mogul has been criticized for promoting cosmetic therapies that were untested and later deemed dangerous. Her recent development deal with Jenny McCarthy, who now blogs on and has a television show in the works, drew criticism from children's advocates, as McCarthy and her autism advocacy group, Generation Rescue, have been leading an ideological, unscientific crusade against childhood vaccines. Add in Winfrey's endorsement of the snake-oil self-help book, "The Secret," and Dr. Phil, and you might be tempted to sue her for malpractice.

And here's a critique of her support of that quack Jenny McCarthy

McCarthy's popularity has created a lot of anger and disbelief in that tiny sliver of society that believes in evidence-based medicine. One person who's feeling particularly frustrated is David T. Tayloe, president of the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatricians. (Remember them? A pediatrician is a person with a medical degree who takes care of children. Some of them are said to trust science more than celebrities when it comes to health care.)

"I think show business crosses the line when they give contracts to people like Jenny McCarthy," Tayloe says. "If you give her a bully pulpit, McCarthy is going to make people hesitate to vaccinate their children. She has no medical or scientific credentials. It disturbs us that she's given all these opportunities to make her pitch about vaccines on Oprah or Larry King or U.S. News or whatever. We have to scramble to get equal timeā€”and who wants to see a gray-haired pediatrician talking about a serious topic like childhood vaccines when she's out there blasting the academy and blasting the federal government?"