Doctor Oz takes a risk

Dr. Oz isn't waiting. He's been telling Oprah and any other reporter who will listen that resveratrol is great, a miracle. He even has a Web site pushing his own version of the supplement. It's beginning to remind some of Linus Pauling and Vitamin C.

As a TV doctor Dr. Sanjay Gupta has nothing on Dr. Mehmet Oz.

From his post at Columbia University Dr. Oz has made himself a media superstar, starting with the Hearst-owned RealAge Web site, and now as Oprah Winfrey's latest discovery, with his own Harpo-produced show scheduled for this fall.

But he may be putting it all at risk by jumping the gun on resveratrol, a chemical found on the skin of grapes now being touted as an anti-aging miracle.

There has been some promising research done on the compound, especially in mice. But lots of things which promise revolutions in mice turn out to be mouse-chow.

60 Minutes recently had a segment touting resveratrol, along with a very low-calorie diet. Sirtris, now owned by Glaxo SmithKline, is trying to push a highly-absorbed form through the drug approval process.

Dr. Oz isn't waiting. He's been telling Oprah and any other reporter who will listen that resveratrol is great, a miracle. He even has a Web site pushing his own version of the supplement.

It's beginning to remind some of Linus Pauling and Vitamin C.

Pauling was a giant, a two-time Nobel Prize winner. And in his later years he came to be seen as something of a quack, especially after his Vitamin C book, How to Live Longer and Feel Better, came out in 1986. I wrote about this last August.

So is Dr. Oz pulling a Pauling, when he's just on the cusp of his biggest success?

Pauling's name is on a research institute at Oregon State, and their page on resveratrol gives the question a definite maybe. Its conclusion, "At present, relatively little is known about the effects of resveratrol in humans."

Would you risk your wealth, fame and good name on an unknown like this? Is it ethical for someone to do so? Even if it turns out they're right?

As they say on the TV, stay tuned.