When is a doctor like a scarecrow? When he doesn t use his brain

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Following his bogus claims that apple juice contains levels of arsenic that are dangerous to humans, the infamous Dr. Oz is at it again and this time, he s peddling the latest weight-loss supplement fad: raspberry ketones. In a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show, personal trainer and fitness expert Lisa Lynn explained to audience members that ingesting raspberry ketone supplements will help melt away excess pounds. How does it work, you might ask? Well it s simple, really: Since they re already present in fruit, raspberry ketones are natural (which means they must be safe and effective), and studies show that this extract increases levels of adinopectin a hormone secreted by fatty tissue. In humans, higher levels of adinopectin are correlated with lower body fat. So there you have it a regular dose of raspberry ketone stimulates weight loss by lowering levels of body fat!

But before you run to the store and stock up on these supplements, we encourage you to read a recent op-ed by an accredited scientist who uses actual scientific principles to expose such health claims for what they really are: simple TV-friendly salesmanship based on nonsense. ACSH friend Dr. Joe Schwarcz, the Director of McGill University s Office for Science and Society, explains in a stepwise fashion why the latest craze over raspberry ketone supplements has no merit. One point he makes is that these supplements are not as natural as Dr. Oz and Lynn may have you believe: Though the chemical could technically be extracted from raspberries, this process would be inefficient, so the product is actually created synthetically in a lab. Of course, as Dispatch readers know, just because something is natural doesn t mean it s safe or effective any more than synthetic suggests that a chemical is harmful.

But ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom finds the whole thing rather ironic. The chemical supposedly responsible for weight loss is rather similar to parabens chemicals found in sunscreen and makeup that are persistently and falsely referred to as endocrine disruptors, " he says. "I m curious what environmental groups might have to say about this, or whether anyone in either camp even knows what a ketone is.

But regardless of how they're made, no studies have demonstrated that raspberry ketones have any effect on weight loss in humans. The only available evidence comes from a single mouse study and as Dr. Schwarcz and ACSH have continually pointed out, mice are not small humans.

Though he gives Dr. Oz credit for being a highly-respected and credentialed cardiac surgeon, Dr. Schwarcz chastises the TV host for abusing his charisma and power to promote potentially harmful supplements. Unfortunately, however, we all know it won t be long before the raspberry ketone fad becomes a thing of the past, and Dr. Oz heralds the next miracle pill to desperate dieters. Let s just hope he reads this first.