|Joseph M. Mercola|
|Born||July 8, 1954|
|Known for||Running mercola.com, a high-profile alternative medicine website|
|Institutions||Natural Health Center|
Joseph M. Mercola (born 1954) is an alternative physician practicing in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. He is the author of several books including The No-Grain Diet (with Alison Rose Levy), and The Great Bird Flu Hoax. Mercola is the founder and editor of an alternative-medicine website, where he advocates dietary and lifestyle approaches to health and markets a variety of dietary supplements. Mercola criticizes many aspects of standard medical practice, particularly vaccination and the use of prescription drugs and surgery to treat diseases. He is a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, as well as several alternative medicine organizations.
Mercola has been the subject of criticism from the business, medical and scientific communities. A 2006 BusinessWeek editorial criticized Mercola's marketing practices as "relying on slick promotion, clever use of information, and scare tactics." In 2005, 2006, and 2011 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Mercola and his company to stop making illegal claims regarding his products' ability to detect, prevent and treat disease. The medical watchdog site Quackwatch has criticized Mercola for making "unsubstantiated claims and clash with those of leading medical and public health organizations [and making] many unsubstantiated recommendations for dietary supplements."
Mercola is a 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois and a 1982 graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. According to Mercola's website, he is a former Chairman of Family Medicine at St. Alexius Medical Center. 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). In the latter 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 in order to accrue money and power. Mercola has appeared on programs such as The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors.
Views and controversy
Mercola operates mercola.com, which he has described as the most popular alternative-health website on the Internet. The site advocates and sells a variety of alternative medicine treatments and dietary supplements. An article in BusinessWeek was critical of his website's aggressive direct-marketing tactics and complained of Mercola's "lack of respect" for his site's visitors, writing:
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."
Mercola has also received three warning letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for violations of U.S. marketing laws. The first two letters, dated 2005 and 2006, charged Mercola with making false and misleading claims regarding the marketing of several natural supplemental products, which violated the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. In the most recent letter, sent in March 2011, Mercola was accused of violating federal law, by making claims about the efficacy of certain uses of a telethermographic camera exceeding those approved by the FDA concerning the diagnostic and therapeutic potential of the device (regulation of such claims being within the purview of the FDA). Dr. Mercola has challenged the FDA's order stating that "We believe that the FDA's warning letter is without merit and is an attempt to regulate the practice of medicine, which the agency does not have the regulatory authority to do. Our use of the thermography device is consistent with its 510(k) clearance for use by health care professionals in their diagnosis and treatment of patients."
Mercola advocates a diet consisting mostly of unprocessed foods. He sees value in paleolithic diets and advocates metabolic typing, and is a proponent of vegetable juicing. Mercola argues fervently against over-consumption of sugar, especially high-fructose corn syrup, which is the predominant sweetener of many commercial sodas and soft drinks, and processed flour and grains, which the body rapidly converts into sugar. He has also been an advocate of increasing the consumption of Omega-3 fats and of strategies to greatly increase blood levels of Vitamin D3.
Mercola's dietary recommendations often put him at odds with mainstream dietary advice. Mercola encourages the ingestion of unprocessed saturated fats, including unrefined coconut oil in place of polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable, corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and canola oils.
Mercola's website has called microwave ovens dangerous, claiming both that they emit dangerous radiation and that microwaving food alters its chemistry. In contrast, academic reviews have concluded that "no significant nutritional differences exist between foods prepared by conventional and microwave methods." Other studies have suggested that food cooked in microwave ovens can be more nutritious than conventionally cooked food. The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide states that "as a general proposition, cooking with a microwave probably does a better job of preserving the nutrient content of foods because the cooking times are shorter." Regardless, advances over the last few decades in microwave chemistry demonstrate many examples of how chemical reactions occur differently with microwave heating - a key point being that almost none of these conditions are ever seen with typical microwave use: nobody deep fries in a microwave, but if this was attempted, the differences in reaction rates seen with microwave heating could become significant.
Mercola is also against homogenization, claiming that it leads to xanthine oxidase absorption and oxidative stress. This idea has been described as "tenuous and implausible" in the Journal of the American Medical Association. A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that "Experimental evidence has failed to substantiate, and in many cases has refuted, the xanthine oxidase/plasmalogen depletion hypothesis".
HIV and AIDS
Mercola has questioned whether HIV is the cause of AIDS. He has argued instead that the manifestations of AIDS (including opportunistic infections and death) may be the result of "psychological stress" brought on by the belief that HIV is harmful. Mercola.com has featured positive presentations of the claims of AIDS denialists, a fringe group which denies the existence of AIDS and/or the role of HIV in causing it.
The scientific community considers the evidence that HIV causes AIDS to be conclusive and rejects AIDS-denialist claims as pseudoscience based on conspiracy theories, faulty reasoning, cherry picking, and misrepresentation of mainly outdated scientific data.
Drugs and supplements
Mercola opposes the use of most prescription drugs and immunizations, favoring better food choices, especially unprocessed, organic produce and elimination of most sugar and grains from our diet, lifestyle modifications, especially regular exercise, better sleep, and removing household toxins from cleaning supplies and cosmetics, and energy psychology tools to address emotional challenges. He promotes and sells numerous dietary supplements, including krill oil, vitamin K, probiotics, and anti-oxidant supplements.
Mercola has also claimed that the use of many commercial brands of sunscreen increases, not decreases, the likelihood of contracting skin cancer with high UV exposure. He advocates the use of "natural" sunscreens, some of which he markets on his website. 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".
Mercola has been highly critical of vaccines and vaccination policy, claiming that too many vaccines are used too soon during infancy. He hosts vaccine critics on his website, advocates preventive measures rather than vaccination in many cases, and strongly criticizes influenza vaccines.
Mercola argues that thimerosal, previously widely used as a vaccine preservative, is harmful. Thimerosal is no longer present in most vaccines given to young children in the USA, though it is still present in some vaccines approved for adults. Extensive evidence has accumulated since 1999 showing that this preservative is safe, with the World Health Organization stating in 2006 that "there is no evidence of toxicity in infants, children or adults exposed to thiomersal in vaccines".
In his book The Great Bird Flu Hoax, Mercola appears to take a stronger anti-pharmaceutical industry stance by accusing them of a fear-mongering marketing campaign against the public. In supporting this stance, Mercola often has wholly critical views of those working in governmental health care, as well as towards international health organizations. He argues at length that concern over swine flu and the resulting immunizations were actually false alarms put forth to terrify the public. The World Health Organization reports that by August 1, 2010, about 18,500 deaths have been caused by the H1N1 pandemic influenza.
In October 2010, Mercola announced that he planned to produce a breastmilk alternative for mothers who may experience difficulty in breastfeeding their infants. The statement ignited controversy among members of his site. Mercola explained in the announcement that he intended to provide an alternative nutritional source for infants who are unable to nurse from their mothers. Many of his fans questioned his ethics for marketing an artificial formula product, when donor milk banks provide a nutritionally adequate food for human infants. Mercola suggests that the pasteurization of the milk results in many of the important essential immune-building elements becoming decimated thus resulting in the infant failing to receive crucial support when they need it the most.
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- , mercola.com
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- Don't Drink Your Milk!, mercola.com
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- Mercola, Joseph (January 2, 2008). "Can AZT and Other "Antiretrovirals" Cause AIDS?". Mercola.com.
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- Mercola, Joseph. "Death by Medicine". Retrieved 2003-11-26
- FDA is "Virtually Incapable of Protecting You From Unsafe Drugs", mercola.com
- How Supermodel Gisele Bündchen "Infuriated Cancer Experts", mercola.com, April 22, 2011. (Scroll down to avoid registration popup.)
- Photococarcinogenesis Study of Retinoic Acid and Retinyl Palmitate, draft technical report, National Toxicology Program
- A User-Friendly Vaccination Schedule, mercola.com, December 2004
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- Proof That Thimerosal Induces Autism-Like Neurotoxicity , J. Mercola
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- J. Mercola, The Great Bird Flu Hoax: The Truth They Don't Want You to Know About the "Next Big Pandemic,"Nelson Books, September 19, 2006, ISBN 0-7852-2187-5
- "Major Expose on Swine Flu by 60 Minutes".
- Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - update 112 World health organization August 6, 2010
- "Best infant food for infants of moms that can’t breastfeed". mercola.com. June 24, 2011. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
- Mercola Fans Angry LisaRussell.org October 20, 2010
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