Page semi-protected

Joseph Mercola

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Joseph Mercola
Dr. Mercola - International Vaccine Conference 2009 Speech.jpg
Mercola in 2009
Born (1954-07-08) July 8, 1954 (age 67)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (BS)
Midwestern University (DO)
Medical career
Sub-specialtiesNutrition
Websitehttps://www.mercola.com/

Joseph Michael Mercola (/mərˈklə/;[1] born July 8, 1954) is an American alternative medicine proponent, osteopathic physician, and Internet business person. He markets dietary supplements and medical devices,[2] some of which are controversial. On his website, Mercola and colleagues advocate a number of unproven alternative health notions including homeopathy and opposition to vaccination. These positions have faced persistent criticism.[3] Mercola is a member of several alternative medicine organizations as well as the political advocacy group Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which promotes scientifically discredited views about medicine and disease.[4] Until 2013,[5] Mercola operated the "Dr. Mercola Natural Health Center" (formerly the "Optimal Wellness Center") in Schaumburg, Illinois.[6] He wrote the books The No-Grain Diet[7] (with Alison Rose Levy) and The Great Bird Flu Hoax.

Mercola's medical claims have been criticized by the medical, scientific, regulatory, and business communities. A 2006 BusinessWeek editorial stated his marketing practices relied on "slick promotion, clever use of information, and scare tactics."[6] In 2005, 2006, and 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Mercola and his company that they were making illegal claims for their products' ability to detect, prevent, and treat disease.[8] The medical watchdog site Quackwatch has criticized Mercola for making "unsubstantiated claims [that] clash with those of leading medical and public health organizations and many unsubstantiated recommendations for dietary supplements."[9] Of Mercola's marketing techniques, surgical oncologist David Gorski says it "mixes the boring, sensible health advice with pseudoscientific advice in such a way that it's hard for someone without a medical background to figure out which is which."[3]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercola spread misinformation about the virus and pseudoscientific anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms;[10][11][12] researchers have identified him as the "chief spreader of coronavirus misinformation online".[10][13][14][15] He has been warned numerous times by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for selling unapproved health products, including supposed Covid-19 treatments.[14]

Life and career

Joseph Mercola was born July 8, 1954, in Chicago, Illinois.[2] His mother, Jeanette Aldridge (née Freeman)[16] was a waitress and his father, Thomas Nicholas Mercola, was an Air Force veteran who worked for Marshall Field's, a department store in Chicago.[17][2] Mercola attended Lane Tech College Prep High School and went on to study biology and chemistry at the University of Illinois, graduating in 1976.[2][18] In 1982, he graduated from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (now Midwestern University).[18] According to Mercola's website, he is a former Chairman of Family Medicine at St. Alexius Medical Center. He stopped seeing patients in 2009 to work full-time on his health products and vitamin supplements business.[3] In a 2017 affidavit, Mercola stated that his net worth was "in excess of $100 million."[3]

Mercola lives in Cape Coral, Florida.[14] He is married to Erin Elizabeth, a blogger listed by the New York Times as one of the most prolific spreaders of misinformation.[19]

He has written two books which have been listed on the New York Times bestseller list: The No-Grain Diet (May 2003) and The Great Bird Flu Hoax (October 2006).[20][21] In the bird flu book, Mercola dismisses medical concerns over an avian influenza pandemic, asserting that the government, big business, and the mainstream media have conspired to promote the threat of avian flu to accrue money and power.[22] Mercola has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show[23] and The Doctors.[24]

Views and controversy

Website and publications

Mercola operates Mercola.com, which he has described as the most popular alternative-health website on the internet.[6] Aside from the main site, it also hosts blog subsites, like Healthy Pets and Peak Fitness. Traffic counting from Quantcast shows the site receives about 1.9 million novel visitors per month, each returning almost ten times each month; the number of views are roughly equal to those received by the National Institutes of Health.[2] The site and his company, Mercola LLC, brought in roughly $7 million in 2010 through the sale of alternative medicine treatments and dietary supplements.[2] The site promotes disproven health ideas, including the notion that homeopathy can treat autism, and that vaccinations have hidden detriments to human health.[2] An article in BusinessWeek criticized his website as using aggressive direct-marketing tactics, writing:[6]

Mercola gives the lie to the notion that holistic practitioners tend to be so absorbed in treating patients that they aren't effective businesspeople. While Mercola on his site seeks to identify with this image by distinguishing himself from "all the greed-motivated hype out there in health-care land", he is a master promoter, using every trick of traditional and Internet direct marketing to grow his business ... He is selling health-care products and services, and is calling upon an unfortunate tradition made famous by the old-time snake oil salesmen of the 1800s.

Phyllis Entis, a microbiologist and food safety expert, highlighted Mercola.com as an example of websites "likely to mislead consumers by offering one-sided, incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading information."[25]

Researchers say that Mercola employs teams in Florida and the Philippines who translate his posts into multiple languages and then post them to groups of websites and social media accounts.[26]: 1

In August 2021, Mercola announced on his website that he would permanently remove all of his articles, but he would continue to post articles daily, which would be deleted after 48 hours.[26] Rachel E. Moran, a conspiracy theory researcher at the University of Washington said that this announcement was "[Mercola] trying to come up with his own strategies of avoiding his content being taken down, while also playing up this martyrdom of being an influential figure in the movement who keeps being targeted."[26]

Vaccinations

Mercola has been highly critical of vaccines and vaccination policy, claiming that too many vaccines are given too soon during infancy. He hosts anti-vaccination activists on his website, advocates other measures rather than vaccination in many cases such as using vitamin D rather than a flu shot despite the data not being conclusive[3][27] and strongly criticizes influenza vaccines. Mercola is viewed by many as an anti-vaccine propagandist.[28] As of 2019, he has donated at least $4 million to anti-vaccine groups though his Natural Health Research Foundation, including more than $2.9 million to the anti-vaccination group the National Vaccine Information Center, amounting to about 40 percent of that organization's funding.[3] He co-funded an anti-vaccination ad in Times Square in 2011.[28]

Mercola has asserted that thimerosal, a vaccine preservative, is harmful due to its mercury content.[29] Thimerosal has been removed from most vaccines given to young children in the U.S., with no effect on rates of autism diagnosis.[30][31] Extensive evidence has accumulated since 1999 showing that this preservative is safe,[32] with the World Health Organization stating in 2006 that "there is no evidence of toxicity in infants, children or adults exposed to thimerosal in vaccines."[32][33]

In March 2021, an analysis of Twitter and Facebook anti-vaccine content found Mercola's to be one of 12 individual and organization accounts producing up to 65% of all anti-vaccine content on the platforms.[10] As of June 2021, his various social media channels accounted for a total audience exceeding 4.1 million followers.[34]

COVID-19

In 2020, Mercola was one of the partners in a website called "Stop Covid Cold" offering advice to the public on preventing and treating COVID-19 with alternative remedies. The website includes links to Mercola's online store and puts a strong emphasis on vitamin D supplements, despite a lack of scientific evidence pointing to the effectiveness of such a treatment.[35][36] The website was taken down in April 2021 after the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter. In May 2021, Mercola announced he would remove mentions of COVID-19 from his websites, blaming Bill Gates and "big pharma".[34][37]

Mercola claimed that inhaling 0.5–3% hydrogen peroxide solution using a nebulizer could prevent or cure COVID-19.[38][39] A tweet from Mercola advertising this method was removed from Twitter on April 15, 2020, for violating the platform rules,[39] but he continued to make these claims on other platforms, including during a speech at a major conference of anti-vaccination activists in October.[35]

He was warned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2021 for selling fake COVID-19 cures.[40][41] In March, the Center for Countering Digital Hate named Mercola as one of the 12 most prominent sources of COVID misinformation in a report later cited by US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.[42]

Other views

Other controversial views Mercola supports include:

  • Dietary recommendations on food consumption that often put him at odds with mainstream dietary advice.[25]
  • Advocacy on the labeling and health of genetically modified food,[43] as well as for their elimination entirely from the market.[citation needed]
  • Claims that microwaving food alters its chemistry,[2] despite consensus that microwaving food does not adversely affect nutrient content compared to conventionally prepared food.[44][45][46][47]
  • Opposition to homogenization, claiming that homogenized milk has little nutritional value and contributes to a variety of negative health effects,[48] despite scientists considering that belief "tenuous and implausible",[49] stating "Experimental evidence has failed to substantiate, and in many cases has refuted, the xanthine oxidase/plasmalogen depletion hypothesis."[50]
  • Mercola.com has featured positive presentations of the claims of AIDS denialists, a fringe group which denies the role of HIV in causing AIDS.[2] The scientific community considers the evidence that HIV causes AIDS conclusive.[51][52][53][54]
  • Claiming cancer risks arise from mobile phone radiation,[55] which is pseudoscientific.[56]
  • Claims that many commercial brands of sunscreen increase, rather than decrease, the likelihood of contracting skin cancer with high UV exposure, and instead advocating the use of natural sunscreens, some of which he markets on his website.[2] This view is not held by mainstream medical science; in 2011, the National Toxicology Program stated that "Protection against photodamage by use of broad-spectrum sunscreens is well-documented as an effective means of reducing total lifetime UV dose and, thereby, preventing or ameliorating the effects of UV radiation on both the appearance and biomechanical properties of the skin."[57]

FDA warning letters

For numerous dietary supplement and device products over some 16 years during the 21st century, Mercola was warned by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for falsely advertising products approved to "mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure" various diseases, including as examples: 1) in 2005, Living Fuel RX(TM) and Coconut Oil Products,[58] in 2006, Optimal Wellness Center chlorella and coconut oil,[59] and in 2011, Meditherm Med2000 Infrared camera, which had no approved evidence for use as a diagnostic or therapeutic device.[60]

During the 2020–2021 COVID-19 pandemic, Mercola, his company, and social media site were warned again by the FDA for falsely advertising the efficacy of high doses of vitamin C, vitamin D3, quercetin, and pterostilbene products to "mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure" COVID-19 disease.[61]

FTC action

In 2016, after marketing and selling tanning beds with the claims that they reduced cancer (backed by discredited studies), the Federal Trade Commission filed a false advertising complaint against Mercola and his companies that resulted in Mercola paying $2.6 million in refunds to customers who had bought their tanning beds, and agreed to a ban preventing them from ever again selling tanning beds.[14]: 1[62][63]

References

  1. ^ As he pronounces his name on his own videos, e.g. [1] Archived February 16, 2021, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Smith, Bryan (January 31, 2012). "Dr. Mercola: Visionary or Quack?". Chicago magazine. Archived from the original on March 7, 2020. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Satija, Neena and Lena H. Sun (December 20, 2019). "A major funder of the anti-vaccine movement has made millions selling natural health products" Archived December 21, 2019, at the Wayback Machine. Washington Post. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  4. ^ "Who Sits at the Clintons' Table, and Who Picks Up the Tab?". Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. April 1, 1994. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  5. ^ "Dr. Mercola's Natural Health Center". www.natural-health-center.com. Archived from the original on March 16, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d Gumpert, David (May 23, 2006). "Old-Time Sales Tricks on the Net". BusinessWeek. Archived from the original on July 6, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  7. ^ "Doc's got odd appetite". Chicago Tribune. May 25, 2003. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  8. ^ Tsouderos, Trine (April 26, 2011). "FDA warns doctor: Stop touting camera as disease screening tool Archived January 12, 2020, at the Wayback Machine", Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
  9. ^ Barrett, Stephen (May 26, 2011). "FDA Orders Dr. Joseph Mercola to Stop Illegal Claims". Quackwatch. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  10. ^ a b c Srikanth, Anagha (March 24, 2021). "12 prominent people opposed to vaccines are responsible for two-thirds of anti-vaccine content online: report". The Hill. Archived from the original on March 25, 2021. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  11. ^ Jonathan, Jarry (June 4, 2021). "The Upside-Down Doctor". Office for Science and Society. McGill University. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  12. ^ Brumfiel, Geoff (May 12, 2021). "For Some Anti-Vaccine Advocates, Misinformation Is Part Of A Business". NPR.org. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  13. ^ "The Disinformation Dozen" (PDF). Center for Countering Digital Hate. March 24, 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 27, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d Frenkel, Sheera (July 24, 2021). "The Most Influential Spreader of Coronavirus Misinformation Online". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  15. ^ Casado, Laura (July 25, 2021). "This natural health doctor has published over 600 articles claiming coronavirus vaccines are a fraud — he's part of the 'disinformation dozen' responsible for the vast majority of COVID-19 misinformation on Facebook". Business Insider. But beating Robert F Kennedy Jr to the No. 1 spot in the 'disinformation dozen' is Joseph Mercola, a natural health doctor based in Cape Coral, Florida.
  16. ^ "Jeanette Aldridge Obituary". Chicago Suburban Daily Herald. July 10, 2017. Archived from the original on February 16, 2021. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  17. ^ "Thomas Nicholas Mercola Obituary". United States Obituary Notices. April 5, 2018. Archived from the original on February 16, 2021. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Mercola, Joseph (2007). Take Control of Your Health. Mercola.com. ISBN 978-0970557414. Archived from the original on July 11, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2018. Joseph Mercola was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 8, 1954. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine – Midwestern University.
  19. ^ Gilbert, David (May 14, 2021). "Facebook Is Finally Doing Something About the Biggest Spreaders of Anti-Vax Lies". Vice. Retrieved July 28, 2021. But Facebook’s actions didn’t extend to Elizabeth’s husband, Dr. Joseph Mercola, a major funder of the anti-vax movement who has made millions from selling alternative health supplements online.
  20. ^ "Paperback Best Sellers: May 18, 2003, How-to and Miscellaneous: Hardcover". The New York Times. May 18, 2003. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  21. ^ "Paperback Best Sellers: October 22, 2006". The New York Times. October 22, 2006. Archived from the original on November 11, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  22. ^ Mercola, Joseph (2009). About 'The Great Bird Flu Hoax'. ISBN 978-1418534905. Archived from the original on June 27, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  23. ^ "The Alternative Health Controversy". The Dr. Oz show. Archived from the original on November 24, 2011. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
  24. ^ "Health Investigation: Artificial Sweeteners". The Doctors. September 24, 2010. Archived from the original on September 13, 2011. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
  25. ^ a b Entis, P (2007). Food safety: old habits, new perspectives. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 300. ISBN 978-1-55581-417-5.
  26. ^ a b c Alba, Davey (August 4, 2021). "A top spreader of coronavirus misinformation says he will delete his posts after 48 hours". The New York Times.
  27. ^ Gallgher, James (February 16, 2017). "Vitamin D pills 'could stop colds or flu". BBC. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  28. ^ a b Platts, Mary (April 18, 2011). "Doctors demand the removal of anti-vaccine ad from Times Square". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on June 24, 2017. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  29. ^ Arthur, Donald (November 16, 2016). "Negative Portrayal of Vaccines by Commercial Websites: Tortious Misrepresentation". University of Massachusetts Law Review. 11 (2). Archived from the original on January 5, 2018. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  30. ^ "Autism: Removing Thimerosal From Vaccines Did Not Reduce Autism Cases In California, Report Finds". ScienceDaily. Archived from the original on December 15, 2018. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  31. ^ "Thimerosal in Vaccines Questions and Answers". Archived from the original on April 23, 2019. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  32. ^ a b Clements CJ, McIntyre PB (January 2006). "When science is not enough – a risk/benefit profile of thiomersal-containing vaccines". Expert Opin Drug Saf. 5 (1): 17–29. doi:10.1517/14740338.5.1.17. PMID 16370953. S2CID 25916348.
  33. ^ Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (July 14, 2006). "Thiomersal and vaccines". World Health Organization. Archived from the original on November 6, 2009. Retrieved November 20, 2007.
  34. ^ a b "Pandemic Profiteers" (PDF). Center for Countering Digital Hate. Center for Countering Digital Hate. June 1, 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 2, 2021. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  35. ^ a b "The Anti-Vaxx Playbook" (PDF). Center for Countering Digital Hate. Center for Countering Digital Hate. 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 30, 2020. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  36. ^ "Vitamin D Coronavirus Disease COVID-19". COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Archived from the original on January 27, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  37. ^ "Anti-vaccine influencer Joseph Mercola removes Covid disinformation from his website". Coda Story. May 7, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  38. ^ Merlan, Anna (April 22, 2020). "The Coronavirus Truthers Don't Believe in Public Health". Vice. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  39. ^ a b Garcia, Arturo (April 15, 2020). "Will 'Nebulized Hydrogen Peroxide' Help You Avoid Contracting..." Truth or Fiction?. Archived from the original on April 22, 2020. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  40. ^ "FDA warns Mercola: Stop selling fake COVID remedies and cures". Alliance for Science.
  41. ^ Nutrition, Center for Food Safety and Applied (March 4, 2021). "Mercola.com, LLC – 607133 – 02/18/2021". FDA.
  42. ^ Salam, Erum (July 17, 2021). "Majority of Covid misinformation came from 12 people, report finds". The Guardian. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  43. ^ The Atlantic Want to Know If Your Food Is Genetically Modified? By Molly Ball MAY 14, 2014 Archived August 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  44. ^ Cross GA, Fung DY (1982). "The effect of microwaves on nutrient value of foods". Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 16 (4): 355–81. doi:10.1080/10408398209527340. hdl:2097/9372. PMID 7047080.
  45. ^ O'Connor, Anahad (October 17, 2006). "The Claim: Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients in Food". New York Times. Archived from the original on July 1, 2017. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  46. ^ Hoffman CJ, Zabik ME (August 1985). "Effects of microwave cooking/reheating on nutrients and food systems: a review of recent studies". J Am Diet Assoc. 85 (8): 922–26. PMID 3894486.
  47. ^ "Microwave cooking and nutrition". Harvard Medical School. 2008. Archived from the original on January 24, 2015. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
  48. ^ Mercola, Joseph (June 3, 2010). "Why You Shouldn't Drink Pasteurized Milk". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  49. ^ Bierman EL, Shank RE (November 1975). "Editorial: Homogenized milk and coronary artery disease: theory, not fact". JAMA. 234 (6): 630–31. doi:10.1001/jama.234.6.630. PMID 1242197.
  50. ^ Clifford AJ, Ho CY, Swenerton H (August 1983). "Homogenized bovine milk xanthine oxidase: a critique of the hypothesis relating to plasmalogen depletion and cardiovascular disease". Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 38 (2): 327–32. doi:10.1093/ajcn/38.2.327. PMID 6349321.
  51. ^ Institute of Medicine (US) Committee for the Oversight of AIDS Activities (1988). Confronting AIDS: Update 1988. Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.17226/771. ISBN 978-0-309-03879-9. PMID 25032454. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011. …the evidence that HIV causes AIDS is scientifically conclusive.
  52. ^ "The Evidence that HIV Causes AIDS". National Institutes of Health. January 14, 2010. Archived from the original on June 10, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  53. ^ Cohen, J. (1994). "The Duesberg phenomenon" (PDF). Science. 266 (5191): 1642–44. Bibcode:1994Sci...266.1642C. doi:10.1126/science.7992043. PMID 7992043. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 6, 2004. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  54. ^ "Denying science". Nat. Med. 12 (4): 369. 2006. doi:10.1038/nm0406-369. PMID 16598265. To support their ideas, some AIDS denialists have also misappropriated a scientific review in Nature Medicine which opens with this reasonable statement: "Despite considerable advances in HIV science in the past 20 years, the reason why HIV-1 infection is pathogenic is still debated."
  55. ^ New York Times The Health Concerns in Wearable Tech Archived November 24, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  56. ^ Margaret Sullivan on the New York Times' Public Editor's Journal Opinion Pages Blog . March 19, 2015 A Tech Column on Wearable Gadgets Draws Fire as ‘Pseudoscience’ Archived June 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  57. ^ Photococarcinogenesis Study of Retinoic Acid and Retinyl Palmitate Archived October 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, draft technical report, National Toxicology Program
  58. ^ "FDA Warning Letter: Optimal Wellness Center, 16 February 2005". US Food and Drug Administration. Archived from the original on August 29, 2016.
  59. ^ "FDA Warning Letter: Optimal Wellness Center, 21 September 2006". US Food and Drug Administration. Archived from the original on August 29, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  60. ^ "FDA Warning Letter: Mercola Natural Health Center, 22 March 2011". US Food and Drug Administration. Archived from the original on April 22, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  61. ^ William A. Correll (February 18, 2021). "FDA Warning Letter to Mercola.com: Unapproved and Misbranded Products Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)". US Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  62. ^ Henderson, Juliana (February 7, 2017). "FTC Providing Full Refunds to Mercola Brand Tanning System Purchasers". Federal Trade Commission. According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants claimed that their Mercola brand D-Lite, SunSplash, and Vitality indoor tanning systems are safe, that research proves indoor tanning does not increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer, and that its systems can reverse the appearance of aging. The FTC’s complaint alleged that these claims are false and not supported by science. As part of the settlement, the defendants are banned from selling indoor tanning systems and agreed to provide refunds to people who bought tanning systems after January 1, 2012, and submitted a completed a claim form by October 31, 2016. Customers will receive an average refund of $1,897.
  63. ^ "An Anti-Vaxxer's New Crusade". The New Yorker. November 27, 2018. Archived from the original on November 27, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2018.

External links