Joseph Mercola

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Joseph Mercola
Mercola's residence in Illinois[1]

Joseph Mercola (born July 8, 1954) is a US-American osteopathic physician, businessman, author, and founder of the alternative medicine-website mercola.com which markets and sells his health-related products. He is also an anti-vaccinationist, HIV/aids-denialist, an outspoken critic of FDA and critic of mainstream medicine, especially regarding the use of prescription drugs. His business practices are regarded as dubious by various sources, and he received several warnings by FDA for violating the law by advertising products using false and exaggerated claims. He is criticized for applying snake-oil vendors' methods, promising expensive products free of charge and scaring visitors of his website into buying his products with his articles.[2][3]

Short biography

Mercola graduated from University of Illinois in 1976 and from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1982.[4] He started his website Mercola.com in 1997 which, according to Mercola himself, has become the most frequently visited natural health website today with over 1.5 million subscribers. Mercola wrote several books. Two of them, The No-Grain Diet and The Great Bird Flu Hoax, made it to the New York Times bestsellers list.

AAPS membership

Mercola is a member of right-wing, ultra-conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons which condems such alleged evils as abortion, vaccination, and evolution. AAPS further denies that mankind causes global warming, that HIV causes AIDS[5], and claims a "gay male lifestyle" reduces life expectancy by 20 years[6], to give just a few examples. It publishes a journal which is neither peer-reviewed nor regarded as "scientific" in the first place.[7] Quackwatch lists it as an untrustworthy non-recommended periodical.[8]

Cancer claims

Mercola also promotes the dangerous Germanic New Medicine of racist Ryke Geerd Hamer as a "new view of cancer" on his website. In an article dated 2007, he claimed Hamer was "persecuted and harassed by German and French authorities" when attempting to publicize his findings. The total number of victims of Hamer's method in and outside of Germany exceeds 140 (as of 2007). Eleven patients died in Italy only. And not even one case of a successful cancer treatment according to the principles of New Medicine has been documented so far.[9]

He also promotes the Sodium Bicarbonate Therapy according to Tullio Simoncini which must be considered one of the most ineffective and absurd methods claiming to cure cancer patients. Simoncini believes that cancer was a fungus and that it can be cured with baking soda.[10]

Vaccination claims

Mercola claims that vaccines are dangerous[11][12] because they were full of toxins and that they were produced from aborted human fetuses:

Most people are unaware that human cell cultures derived from aborted human fetuses have been used extensively in vaccine production for decades. And vaccine makers are happy that most of the public has remained ignorant of this fact, as awareness of it could blow up in their faces.[13]

This claim of course is utter nonsense.[14]

In his book "The Great Bird Flu Hoax", Mercola claims the warnings about H1N1 flu were just false alarms and that swine flu was quite harmless. He contends it can be avoided by some simple measures, like optimizing vitamin D levels, avoiding sugar and processed food, the use of krill oil, the use of all-natural antibiotics like olive leaf extract and oil of oregano.[15] Mercola happens to sell all these products through his website. Swine flu, however, is not harmless; the World Health Organization confirmed more than 18,000 casualties caused by H1N1 until August 2010.[16]

Mercola on Food

Mercola basically advocates a so called Paleolithic diet, consisting mostly of unprocessed foods. He recommends the use of coconut oil[17][18][19], and to avoid most fish (due to mercury content), grain, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, sugar, and pasteurized/homogenized milk. He advises persons with elevated insulin levels (such as diabetics) to avoid all grain products, fruit juices (including fresh-squeezed fruit juices), and canned, packaged or artificial foods.

His dietary advice is criticized, as for example studies proved grain my have a protective effect against type 1 diabetes and a whole-grain diet strongly protects against type 2 diabetes.[20][21]

The American Heart Association states that saturated fats like coconut oil contribute to heart disease and recommends to limit their ingestion[22], a position which is supported by science[23]

Mercola's claims regarding homogenized milk have been called "tenuous and implausible" by the American Medical Association.

Mercola argues against the use of microwave ovens and claims they were hazardous[24]. Instead, he recommends buying his "Aroma's Turbo Oven" which, as he claims, miraculously protects the nutritional values of food.[25] Various scientific papers proved such claims absolutely unfounded. Due to the short heating periods in microwave ovens, nutrient content is actually preserved and not destroyed.[26][27]

Further Claims

Mercola promotes various pseudoscientific ideas on his website, so e.g. that HIV was not the cause for AIDS[28], that sunscreen increases the likelihood of skin cancer[29], and that prescription drugs were harmful and should be avoided[30][31]

Mercola also claims medicine kills more people than it saves, in a series of articles titled Death by Medicine.[32][33] Among the authors of the series Death by Medicine are dubious writers like Gary Null (dubious credentials and products) and Carolyn Dean (had her registration certificate revoked because of "disgraceful, dishonourable and unprofessional conduct" in 1995).[34][35] The articles are full of pseudoscience, false claims, and fallacies.[36]

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References

  1. FDA Orders Dr. Joseph Mercola to Stop Illegal Claims
  2. Old-Time Sales Tricks on the Net, Business Week, May 23 2006
  3. Joseph Mercola, D.O. in the Skeptic's Dictionary
  4. My education, mercola.com
  5. Questioning HIV/AIDS: Morally Reprehensible or Scientifically Warranted?, by Henry Bauer. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 2007: Vol 12, No. 4
  6. Homosexuality: Some Neglected Considerations, by Nathaniel S. Lehrman, MD., Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Volume 10, Number 3 (Fall 2005)
  7. The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons: Medical "science" as dubious as it gets, Orac at scienceblogs.com
  8. Nonrecommended Periodicals, Barrett, Stephen, MD, Quackwatch. September 15, 2008
  9. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/08/21/a-new-view-of-cancer-german-new-medicine.aspx
  10. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/08/05/fungus-causing-cancer-a-novel-approach-to-the-most-common-form-of-death.aspx
  11. http://vaccines.mercola.com/
  12. Don’t Let Your Child Be the Next Victim of This Deadly Vaccine, mercola.com, April 05 2011
  13. One of the Most Inexcusable Vaccine Revelations of All..., mercola.com, July 10 2011
  14. Joe Mercola plays the religion card against vaccines, Respectful Insolence, Scienceblogs.com, July 11, 2011
  15. Major Expose on Swine Flu by 60 Minutes , mercola.com, July 16 2009
  16. Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - update 112
  17. Low-Fat Diet Myths and the Advantages of Coconut Oil, Part I mercola.com, July 14 2004
  18. Low-Fat Diet Myths and the Advantages of Coconut Oil, Part II, mercola.com, July 17 2004
  19. Low-Fat Diet Myths and the Advantages of Coconut Oil, Part III, mercola.com, July 21 2004
  20. Cereal grains, legumes and diabetes, Venn BJ, Mann JI , European Journal of Clinical Nutrition(November 2004)
  21. Nutritional factors and worldwide incidence of childhood type 1 diabetes, Muntoni S, Cocco P, Aru G, Cucca F, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (June 2000)
  22. Saturated Fats, American Heart Association
  23. Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease, Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (March 2010)
  24. The Proven Dangers of Microwaves, mercola.com
  25. Mercola Turbo Oven
  26. The effect of microwaves on nutrient value of foods, Cross GA, Fung DY Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (1982)
  27. Effects of microwave cooking/reheating on nutrients and food systems: a review of recent studies, Hoffman CJ, Zabik ME, Journal of American Diet Association (August 1985)
  28. HIV Does Not Cause AIDS, mercola.com, September 05 2001
  29. The Sunscreen Myth: How Sunscreen Products Actually Promote Cancer, mercola.com, June 19 2007
  30. How to Solve Nearly Any Illness - Without Drugs, mercola.com, January 11 2011
  31. 7 Drugs That Can Kill Children with a Single Pill, mercola.com, April 06 2010
  32. Death by Medicine, Part I, mercola.com, November 26 2003
  33. Nearly 250,000 Deaths From ONE Common Mistake: Here's How to Protect Yourself, mercola.com, February 04 2011
  34. Disciplinary Action against Carolyn Dean, M.D., Casewatch
  35. The Quack-Files: Death by Medicine, by Harriet Hall, MD
  36. Science-Based Medicine on "Death by Medicine"