Carlon M. Colker, M.D., FACN (born June 21, 1965) is an American physician, author, network reality TV personality, public speaker, and dietary supplement industry consultant. He runs a private practice and consulting clinic in Greenwich, Connecticut (Peak Wellness, Inc.), and is currently affiliated with the dietary supplement company Atlas Therapeutics. He has also served as a researcher, product developer, and spokesman for other supplement companies including LifeVantage, ITV Ventures, Cytodyne Technologies, Muscletech Research and Development, Metabolife International, and Vital Basics. Colker appeared as a guest physician and fitness trainer on the ABC reality TV program Shaq's Big Challenge in 2007, and has served as a health consultant for various TV and print media sources.
In 2003, Colker sparked media controversy by attempting to defend the safety of ephedra-based supplement products, which he had previously been involved in researching on behalf of various manufacturing companies. In 2004 Colker’s research and radio commercials for V-Factor, a dietary supplement that was claimed to enhance male sexual performance, were the focus of a false advertising complaint from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission which resulted in the manufacturer, Vital Basics, Inc., paying out a $1-million settlement.
In 2008, Colker made news headlines after advising actor Jeremy Pevin to prematurely withdraw from David Mamet’s Broadway play Speed-the-Plow due to alleged concerns of mercury poisoning from consuming excessive amounts of sushi and Chinese herbal supplement products.
Colker was born to parents of Russian Jewish and Lithuanian descent. Both of them were artists. His father, Edward Colker, was a graduate of NYU, a noted lithographer, a maker of rare hand-bound books, and a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. His mother, Elaine Galen, was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and herself a noted abstract painter. As a child, Colker grew up around the diversity of his parent’s art world while being exposed to their penchant for healthy living, organic foods, and vitamin supplements.
He competed in a number of sports and was a junior league boxer up until his 16th birthday, when he sustained a double epigastric hernia during a fight. The injury necessitated surgical repair and put him on the rehabilitative track of structured exercise and weight lifting. This experience led him to competitive bodybuilding where he participated in a number of competitions including the NPO Mr. Apollo, NPC Mr. Long Island, NPC Mr. Metropolitan and East Coast Regional Bodybuilding Championships. With his interest in weightlifting grew an equal passion for mixed martial arts (MMA).
Colker received a baccalaureate degree in June 1988 from Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. He received his medical degree in May 1993 from Sackler School of Medicine. In June 1996 he completed his internship and residency training in internal medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan.
In 1996, Colker was employed first at Park Avenue Medical Nutrition and then later that year, by Affiliated Physicians, both located in New York City. In January 1996 he established Peak Wellness, Inc., a company with locations in Greenwich, Connecticut and Beverly Hills, California that provides integrative medical services including diet and nutrition guidance, physical therapy and injury rehabilitation, exercise testing and physical performance optimizing, as well as preventive medicine and anti-aging interventions. In 1997 while building his practice, he functioned as a medical intensive care unit attending physician, emergency room attending physician, and hospitalist at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stamford, CT. He also worked as an internal medicine intensive care unit physician and outpatient clinic teaching attending at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT. Colker is a medical staff affiliate with Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut. and Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan.
As of February 2011, Colker has served as chief medical officer and executive vice president of Atlas Therapeutics Corp. (OTCBB: ATTH; formerly Marvin's Place, Inc.). In 2008, it was announced that Colker would be serving on the advisory board of the supplement manufacturing company LifeVantage. In 2005, Colker was named as head of the scientific advisory board of the dietary supplement manufacturer Health Sciences Group, Inc. (OTCBB:HESG), and in 2006 the company announced that Colker would be assisting in the formulation of the supplement product Sequestrol. Colker was also a product developer and spokesperson for the dietary supplement Lipistat, marketed by ITV Ventures. He has also served as a spokesperson, adviser, product developer, and/or researcher for the supplement companies Cytodyne Technologies, Inc., Muscletech Research and Development, Metabolife International, Inc., and Vital Basics, Inc.
Dietary supplement controversies
Colker, a health freedom advocate, has generated controversy regarding his opinions and research on the safety of ephedra-based dietary supplements. Colker was the lead researcher responsible for studies and product development on behalf of supplement manufacturers such as Cytodyne Technologies, Inc., Muscletech Research and Development, and Metabolife International, Inc., manufacturers of the ephedra-based weight loss pills Xenadrine RFA-1, Hydroxycut, and Metabolife 365, respectively.
Following the February 2003 heatstroke-related death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, in which ephedra was implicated as the cause, Colker and two other physicians, all speaking on behalf of the industry-affiliated Ephedra Education Council, disputed the role that ephedra played in Bechler’s death. Colker also defended the safety of ephedra, claiming that it "is not a health risk for most people".
In May 2003, a California Superior Court judge handed down a $12.5 million judgment in a class action suit against Cytodyne Technologies for falsely advertising Xenadrine RFA-1, the product implicated in the death of Bechler. Referring to Colker's research, the judge concluded that Cytodyne had "not just exaggerated the findings of the clinical trials it commissioned, but had also cajoled some researchers into fudging results", and that those involved in the research on Xenadrine RFA-1 had set out "to create a study that justified the money being spent by Cytodyne and that would ensure that they received further work from the company". In June 2009, journalists for the New York Times commenting on Cytodyne's research noted that the legal case raised "serious questions about the way makers of ephedra and other dietary supplements use -- and often misuse -- the promise of scientific proof to market their products". Colker was also named in other lawsuits for allegedly conspiring with another ephedra company to produce deceptive ephedra research data. In July 2003, Colker provided testimony to the United States Congress regarding his research on the safety of ephedra-containing products.
Colker previously served as a researcher and radio spokesperson for “V-Factor” (a combination of yohimbine, L-arginine, and Gingko biloba), a dietary supplement marketed by Vital Basics, Inc. of Portland, Maine as a men’s sexual performance enhancer. In 2004, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission registered a complaint against Vital Basics and its owners alleging, in part, that the company’s advertising of V-Factor violated Federal law; specifically, that the company made unsubstantiated claims about V-Factor’s safety; falsely represented that a clinical study of V-Factor conducted by Colker proved that the product was safe and effective; and misrepresented paid commercial advertising featuring Colker (Vital Basics Health Show radio infomercials) as independent radio programs. The defendants settled the FTC’s complaint by paying $1 million for consumer redress and agreeing not to make unsubstantiated claims in the future.
Jeremy Piven and mercury poisoning
In December 2008, actor Jeremy Piven announced that he would be withdrawing from the lead role as Bobby Gould in David Mamet’s Broadway play Speed-the-Plow. Piven, who had previously sought an early release from the production, cited mercury poisoning from eating sushi and taking herbal supplements as the reason for his decision to leave the show prematurely. Colker, who said that Piven had come to him soon after the show had opened and complained of excessive fatigue and exhaustion, was responsible for making the diagnosis and providing Piven with medical advice that “he should end his run immediately.” According to a letter sent by Colker to the show’s producers, he stressed that “it’s important to underscore that” withdrawing from the play was not Piven’s decision and said “it was my decision.” Writers for the magazine Variety and Gawker expressed skepticism about the legitimacy of Piven’s excuse for withdrawing from the play, and Mamet wryly commented “my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.”
According to a 2007 interview with Sports Illustrated, Colker has trained elite professional and Olympic athletes.[who?] He appeared as a guest physician and trainer on the ABC reality TV program Shaq's Big Challenge; as a guest medical correspondent on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends; and on shows such as ESPN Outside the Lines, NBC’s Health Segment, Court TV, Bloomberg, Good Morning America, and ABC’s World News Tonight. Colker has authored various media articles and columns and published several books on health-related topics. He is also a columnist and contributing editor for Muscular Development, and has appeared in such health magazines as Muscle & Fitness, Ironman, Mind & Power, Body, Runner’s World, Walking, Let’s Live, Self Magazine, Strive, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and Cosmopolitan.
- Extreme Muscle Enhancement: Bodybuilding’s Most Powerful Techniques (1st edition). Prosource Publications, Inc.; Manasquan, N.J.,; January 9, 2005.
- The Greenwich Diet, Advanced Research Press, Ronkonkoma, New York; Publication: May 1, 2000.
- Sex Pills: From Androstenedione to Zinc, What Works and What Doesn’t, Advanced Research Press, Ronkonkoma, New York; Publication: March 1, 1999.
- Alipour, Sam. "Shaq battles fat -- and no, not his own". ESPN Sports. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
- Nathan, Vardi (April 19, 2004). "Poison Pills". Forbes. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
- Fessenden, Ford (June 23, 2003). "Studies of Dietary Supplements Come Under Growing Scrutiny". New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- Kemper, Vicki (February 21, 2003). "Ephedra Industry Insists Herb Is Safe". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- Morgan, Jon (February 21, 2003). "Ephedra link to death disputed by industry". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
- "How Safe Is Weight-Loss Supplement Xenadrine?". Good Morning America. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- "Vital Basics, Inc., et al.; Analysis To Aid Public Comment". Federal Trade Commission. March 23, 2004. Retrieved 2004-03-23.
- "Decisions, Findings, Opinions, and Orders, January 1, 2004 To June 30, 2004. Vital Basics, Inc., et al. (Docket C-4107)". Federal Trade Commission. p. 254. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
- "Marketers of the Supplements "Focus Factor" and "V-Factor" Agree to Settle FTC Charges and Pay $1 Million". Federal Trade Commission. March 17, 2004. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
- Itzkoff, David (December 18, 2008). "Piven Leaves Show Amid Concerns for His Health". New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- Michael Fleming; Gordon Cox (December 18, 2008). "Macy, Butz replace Piven in 'Plow'". Variety. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- "Meet Mercury-Poisoned Jeremy Piven’s Fishy Celebrity Doctor". Gawker. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- "Jeremy Piven’s Will Repeat His Mercury Poisoning Story Until You Think It’s True". Gawker. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- International Print Collectors' Society Newsletter January 2005, Vol II, Issue III
- "Find A Doctor: Carlon Colker, M.D.". Greenwich Hospital. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- "Physician Directory Listing: Carlon Colker, MD". Continuum Health Partners. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- "Carlon M. Colker Bio". Forbes. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- "Colker joins LifeVantage scientific advisory board". The Daily Transcript, San Diego Source. October 8, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- "Press Release: Carlon Colker, M.D., Appointed to Head Scientific Advisory Board; Reports Second Quarter Results and Recaps Recent Developments". Business Wire. August 23, 2005. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
- "Press Release: Health Sciences Group Announces Strategic Initiatives for 2006". Business Wire. January 6, 2006. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
- "Lipistat: Quick Reference Sheet". ITV Ventures. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
- "Hearing evidence". House Energy & Commerce Committee. July 23, 2003. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- Colker, Carlon; Georgeann C. Torina, Melissa A. Swain, Douglas S. Kalman. "Double-blind, placebo controlled evaluation of the safety and efficacy of ephedra, caffeine, and salicin for Short term weight reduction in overweight subjects". American Society of Exercise Physiologists, 2nd Annual Meeting, 1999 – Abstract # 26.
- Chass, Murray (March 14, 2003). "Baseball: Pitcher's Autopsy Lists Ephedra as One Factor". New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- Crabtree, Penni (May 31, 2003). "Judge tells N.J. diet pill firm to pay restitution". San Diego Union-Tribune May 31, 2003. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
- "Issues Relating to Ephedra-containing Dietary Supplements". House Committee on Energy and Commerce. July 23. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- Marikar, Sheila (December 19, 2008). "Piven's Doc: If You See Him Eating Seafood, Call My Office". ABC News. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- "Updates on the Steroid Sting". Sports Illustrated. March 8, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
Carlon Colker's websites