What You Didn't Know About Dr. Oz

To say that Dr. Mehmet Oz has a great pedigree is an understatement. According to Biography, he earned a BS in Biology from Harvard University, an MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and an MBA from The Wharton School. His early career had him practicing medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and teaching med students at Columbia University.

But it's his charisma that made him famous Per Oprah, he first appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show as a health expert, showing celebrity potential. By 2004, the Queen of All Media herself first labeled Dr. Oz "America's Doctor." Soon after, he had his own show and a lengthy career in the spotlight — but that spotlight has been wrought with controversy. Between working with psychics on this show and touting self-healing or miracle products, he's often criticized.

Defending himself in a 2015 piece published by Time, Dr. Oz said, "My exploration of alternative medicine has never been intended to take the place of conventional medicine, but rather as additive. Critics often imply that any exploration of alternative methods means abandoning conventional approaches. It does not. In fact, many institutions like mine use the names 'complementary' or 'integrative' medicine, which is also appropriate."

He sponsors a scholarship for diversity in medicine

While 13.4% of the total population in the United States identifies as Black or African American (via United States Census Bureau), only 5% of physicians in the United States do (via the Association of American Medical Colleges). That discrepancy led Dr. Oz to start the #MoreBlackDoctors campaign and inspire future doctors in underrepresented communities.

The Diversity in Medicine Scholarship Award, which, as of this writing, is closed to submissions, seeks to help change that, and it comes with a $15,000 prize. As part of the application process, candidates needed to address two questions. First, "why you are inspired to become a doctor and pursue a degree in the field of medicine despite adversities?" Also, "how you intend to use your medical knowledge and degree to help underrepresented communities and tackle health inequities?" The campaign also includes free monthly webinars to empower Black medical students, support and advocate for more diversity in medicine, and combat racial bias.

Through these efforts, Dr. Oz is working to "mentor hundreds of students across the country on the topic of the duality of being a black patient and physician," as explained by Kishon Springer, unit publicist for The Dr. Oz Show.

He is adding Jeopardy host to his list of credentials

The world lost a legend when pancreatic cancer claimed the life of Alex Trebek in November 2020. Trebek's name was almost synonymous with Jeopardy!, the television game show he hosted for 36 years. Rather than immediately replace Trebek, the show brought in a series of guest hosts to temporarily fill his shoes, ranging from executive producer Mike Richards, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, to Dr. Oz.

Dr. Oz's stint, from March 22 to April 2, didn't receive rave reviews. Criminal Minds star Kirsten Vangsness tweeted, "It doesn't match the authenticity and kindness that #AlexTrebek stood for." Variety called his tenure on the set "a black eye" for the show. People even parroted fans' claims that his stretch was a "horrible mistake," explaining that fans are calling for a "boycott." Some even circulated a petition calling for his removal (via Newsweek).

"Jeopardy! celebrates knowledge and facts and Dr. Oz has largely broken from that in his medical advice," Kristin Sausville, a five-time winner of the show, shared on Twitter.

He's personally touched by Alzheimer's Disease

Dr. Oz has a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer's. Not only is his mother battling the neurodegenerative disease, but he himself also tested positive for a genetic marker that puts him at higher risk of getting Alzheimer's as well.

Over 6 million Americans are living with the disease (via Alzheimer's Association) for which there is no cure. According to a 2018 review published in F1000Research, "lifestyle modifications including diet and exercise remain the only interventions with evidence showing lower [Alzheimer's Disease] risk and possible prevention of overall cognitive decline."

During a talk with Fox News, Dr. Oz revealed that he felt a bit guilty that he didn't pick up on the signs that his mother's health was deteriorating earlier. That's why he publicly shared six early symptoms of the disease along with preventative measures you can take to do your best to protect yourself.

He has a line of sleep solutions including mattresses, pillows and comforters

It's fairly common knowledge that there are major health benefits to a good night's sleep. You feel mentally sharper, your mood is better, your heart is healthier, and your body functions properly (via WebMD). And there are major consequences if your sleep gets disrupted. One review published in Nature and Science of Sleep summarized the short-term consequences which include somatic pain, reduced quality of life, emotional distress and mood disorders, and cognitive, memory, and performance deficits. It also looked at long-term consequences, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, weight-related issues, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and colorectal cancer.

And according to Medical News Today, the linens you choose might play a role — which might be one reason why Dr. Oz created his own line of sleep products, spanning pillows, mattress toppers, weighted blankets, and bedding. "As a father of four, a surgeon, and a talk show host — I know about sleepless nights," Dr. Oz said in a press release for the new line. "I am excited to introduce a better way to sleep — with cutting-edge technology that's proven to instantly stop snoring and relieve back pain."

He helped save a man's life at Newark Airport

Imagine waiting at baggage claim, after a family vacation, and a fellow traveler drops to the ground. On March 1, 2021, that's exactly what happened to Dr. Oz at Newark airport, after returning from a trip to Florida with his family (via ABC News).

"I had to roll him onto his back and recognized that he was purple, I mean the color of an eggplant, and that's a bad combination," Dr. Oz told Good Morning America's Robin Roberts. "And there's that soul-sapping moment when you realize you're losing a life. So I started doing CPR, which is my training."

According to American CPR Training, more than 1.5 million people have heart attacks each year; approximately 350,000 "die before ever reaching a hospital." But nearly 45% of those suffering survive when CPR is administered by a bystander (via American Heart Association).

"When you learn CPR, the person whose life you'll save will almost certainly be someone that you know and love," Dr. Oz said (via ABC News). "You're actually going to be able to use that on people who are dear to you."

He's a "hands-on" grandfather

Dr. Oz has not made it a secret that he has a strong bond with his children. But the bond doesn't stop with them — he's a proud grandfather who isn't afraid to spoil his grandkids (via People). 

He holds them, dances with them, swims with them, dresses up with them for Halloween, spends time in the kitchen with them ... he's all in (via First for Women). "I play with them all the time," Dr. Oz told Closer Weekly. "They want to see me because, when they do see me, they're going to do something fun. I always want to do something active and I want to see how they react if things don't go well."

The relationships he is forging are highly valuable (via Psychology Today). According to a study by the University of Oxford, "a high level of grandparental involvement increases the well-being of children."

He's won ten daytime Emmys but was snubbed in 2020

Since The Dr. Oz Show's inception in 2009, the talk show has swept up an impressive ten Daytime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Talk Show Host, Outstanding Talk Show/Informative, Outstanding Directing in a Talk Show/Morning Program, and Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host. Not too shabby, huh?

But the tide turned in 2020 when Dr. Oz was snubbed and neither the show nor its host received a nomination. Some speculated that the reason he was overlooked this year had to do with his controversial opinions about the Coronavirus pandemic (via TV Line). Throughout the year, Dr. Oz was outspoken about returning to schools, citing Sean Hannity on Fox News (via The New York Times) that reopening schools "may only cost us 2-3% in terms of total mortality."

As of this writing, the jury is still out on whether Dr. Oz will receive an Emmy nomination in 2021, but he has since apologized for his opinions in a video posted on Twitter.

He's a best-selling author

It's not easy, or common, to become a bestselling author. Over 3 million books are published each year and only 500 of those make it to the New York Times bestseller list (via EPJ Data Science).

But if you are Dr. Oz, you overcome statistics like that time and time again. He's a prolific writer, having penned hundreds of publications. Eight of his books have become New York Times bestsellers (via Simon and Schuster), including 2018's Food Can Fix It: The Superfood Switch to Fight Fat, Defy Aging, and Eat Your Way Healthy.

One of his first books, You: On a Diet, co-written with Dr. Michael Roizen, was hugely successful thanks to Oprah Winfrey's strong support of Dr. Oz (via The New York Times). It kicked off an entire book series of "YOU" titles, including You: Losing Weight, You: Staying Young, You: Being Beautiful, You: Raising Your Child, and You: Stress Less.

Most of Dr. Oz's books are available on Amazon or can be listened to using Audible.

Dr. Oz has been on some very influential lists

What do Dr. Oz, the Dalai Lama, Brad Pit, and Miley Cyrus have in common? They all appeared on Time's 100 Most Influential People list of 2008. It's hard to imagine those individuals all playing on the same field. And in a more bizarre comparison, the 2020 list included Dr. Anthony Fauci. Fauci, however, was listed as a leader; Oz, a scientist and a thinker.

Dr. Oz's name has appeared on other lists as well: He's been on Esquire's 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century list, he was named a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum, one of Harvard's 100 Most Influential Alumni, and the AARP 50 Influential People Over 50 (via The Dr. Oz Show).

Why, you ask? The Dr. Oz Show has millions of viewers that tune in every day. And Dr. Oz is going to continue to extend his influence over people in the future. As of this writing, The Dr. Oz Show has been renewed for two more seasons (via Variety).

He has made claims that aren't scientifically based

You just cannot believe everything that Dr. Oz says. He has talked up miracle weight loss cures like green coffee bean extract and raspberry ketones. He has suggested astrology might play a role in our health. And, in 2020, he suggested, along with former U.S. President Donald Trump, that hydroxychloroquine could fight the coronavirus (via CNN) before any conclusive scientific evidence pointed in that direction.

There just wasn't scientific evidence to back up those claims — which isn't unique to medical talk shows. In fact, one study published in BMJ showed that "approximately half of the recommendations have either no evidence or are contradicted by the best available evidence."

Dr. Oz didn't always believe in stepping outside of the lines. "I went to medical school firmly believing that if I studied hard I would learn everything I needed to know about the human body," he told The New Yorker. "All the answers lay in traditional medicine. I just needed to learn them."

Dr. Oz is a respected surgeon

It's hard to think of Dr. Oz as anything but a celebrity. According to NPR, he "straddles medicine and entertainment." But he's not all show business. "Dr. Oz is still a practicing doctor and surgeon," Kishon Springer, unit publicist for The Dr. Oz Show, told Health Digest.

"A lot of folks don't realize that I still practice medicine," Dr. Oz told ABC News. He's a thoracic surgeon. In other words, a cardiac, or heart, specialist. And a good one, too. The list of honors on his Columbia Physician's Profile is vast; his list of medical publications is even longer.

"I never thought of myself as a celebrity and I don't say that with false modesty," he told ABC News. "Surgeons are not modest people. We are all about controlled arrogance. We have to believe with our hearts that we can take you into an operating suite, take a band saw to your sternum, open it and still help you."

He might be more marketer than doctor

It's called "The Dr. Oz Effect": Dr. Oz talks about a product on his show, viewers believe he's endorsing it, and sales skyrocket. It's incredibly successful grassroots marketing, and PR reps work really hard to get their product featured on the show (via New Hope Network). Co-executive Producer Amy Chiaro told Forbes, "after the Neti Pot was mentioned on the show, its sales rose by 12,000%."

"A lot of it just has to do with his gushing over a product," Dr. David Gorski, assistant professor of surgery at Wayne State University, told NBC News. "People seem to believe Dr. Oz. I don't know why, but they do." The show's medical unit chooses a product to appear even without scientific proof of efficacy. This led to troubles on Capitol Hill for Dr. Oz in 2014, who had to appear before the senate's consumer protection panel to defend himself (via HuffPost).

Still, as long as sales increase, implied endorsements will continue. But Dr. Oz will work with lawmakers. A how-to article on the Dr. Oz site offers suggestions for avoiding celebrity endorsement scams.

He's worth $100 million

Doctors are typically thought of as being wealthy. And indeed, a survey from Medscape showed that the average compensation for all physicians in 2019 was $313,000. That's a much prettier penny compared to the average salary for all Americans of $56,516 (via CNBC).

But Dr. Oz has taken the average surgeon's wealth to an entirely different level by adding to it one part television personality, one part university professor, and one part bestselling author. That winning recipe has allowed him to yield a net worth of $100 million (via Celebrity Net Worth). He has worked hard for his success. He's deliberate about his brand image (via Forbes) and he's leveraged relationships with powerful people to his advantage, such as with Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump.

In fact, Dr. Oz is listed among the wealthiest doctors in the world, along with other doctors that "came up through the television ranks" (via Money Inc.): Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew.

He founded a national non-profit organization addressing health inequities in at-risk communities

HealthCorps is "a national non-profit organization committed to saving lives by addressing health inequities in at-risk communities through educational experiences and service learning" (via Charity Navigator).

Dr. Oz was personally moved to found Healthcorps, in large part because of the childhood obesity crisis. "Having spent a lot of time in the health space, I noticed that younger and younger people are developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, illnesses that seem tolerable when you're 60 but can cause major problems at such an early age," Dr. Oz told Brand Channel. "I was doing heart surgery on 25 year-olds to unclog their arteries, and I knew I needed to do something."

Healthcorps has been busy partnering with other organizations to distribute health kits containing masks and thermometers to teachers at rural schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, part of their #savethestudents campaign. They've also passed out stress-relieving kits to support teacher's wellbeing during the pandemic.

As of this writing, Dr. Oz serves as the chairman of the board of HealthCorps as well as its founder. His hosting stint on Jeopardy! saw him donating to the organization during his run.