Uniting to Face Addiction

The storm blared onto the news on Thursday with the fury of a thousands suns… All hell was breaking loose and the East Coast was starting to panic as Hurricane Joaquin tore through the Bahamas. But by Sunday I was looking out on a crowd of thousands peacefully singing their anthem of recovery and smiling.


“This is the day When the Truth will shine… On broken chains we found peace of mind.”

Their lives too had been a raging hurricane. They had gathered on the national mall in the first event of its kind to celebrate the storm’s passing both literally and metaphorically. A hurricane had raged and pass through the ocean, much like their personal journey to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Before the day started I walked the grounds and talked to dozens of people. Some of the best musical talent in the world was here but this was not the vibe of a major rock concert. Most had on t-shirts on with pictures of loved ones they had lost. They held signs with portraits of their children, their siblings. I would look at someone and before we spoke I knew they needed a hug. They would tell me their stories of how their son, daughter, brother, sister, and friends had been lost to a drug overdose. I was floored at the sheer volume of portraits. I was frozen by the collective mourning.

But my sadness at their stories was also tempered by the joy in other faces as smiling people shared their personal stories of recovery. Person after person would tell me they were in long term recovery from addiction and were proud to stand with the thousands to end the silence that surrounds this fatal disease. It took an event like to today to start this national conversation, and it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.


Soon it was time to take the stage and launch in to the anthem that was written for the day. I spoke with the crowd and welcomed them, telling them how flattered and humbled I was to be in their company on such a special day at such a seminal turning point. I then turned and gave the stage to legendary composer Paul Williams who had written songs for everyone from the Carpenters to Barbara Streisand to Daft Punk. His classic song “Rainy Days and Mondays” is a poetic take on the depression and melancholy that takes root in out lives and wrecked havoc in his. His own personal battle with alcoholism had led him through despair, desperation but then 24 years of joyous sobriety which he stood sharing through song with the audience.



The faces backstage and on stage were a who’s who of pop culture and our country’s leadership. Steven Tyler stood with me and we danced to Joe Walsh as he sang “Life’s Been Good,” his humorous take on the excesses of fame and active addiction. But he also sang his song “One Day At A time,” which was one of the first songs he wrote after finding sobriety. He told me afterwards that once he found sobriety 20 years ago, he struggled through writer’s block and then this song emerged. That phrase is borrowed from the language of 12 step and has been a mantra for those living a life of sobriety. Walsh sang it loud and proud and the entire crowd sang along with him. It was a privilege to be part of it.



The United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy was also there. Normally its unusual to see a White House official member joking with a member of Aerosmith, but this day was a coupling of pop stars, government leadership and average people who have formed a cooperative trifecta – the first organized national response to addiction in this country’s history. The Surgeon General commissioned the first ever Surgeon General’s report on alcoholism and addiction from the stage. This wasn’t a policy speech in Congress; this wasn’t a press release; this was the populist way that history is made.

The reason is obvious when you see the hundreds of portraits scroll on the jumbotron – overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in people under 50 surpassing traffic accidents. 24 million people are in the acute chronic stages of this fatal disease and desperately need help. There is help available and treatments work. The thousands singing along to the anthem are proof – so are the 20 million people in recovery in this country. We must bridge this gap between suffering and salvation. We must celebrate those that have found recovery so those suffering and their loved ones know good treatment is available and works. We must end the silence.



Breaking Down Your Barriers to Heart Health


The heart is a beautiful organ. Even after having seen thousands of hearts in the operating room, it still takes my breath away to see one beating in front of me, pumping life-giving blood to all of the organs of the body. The job of the heart is so seemingly simple and yet the intricate workings of doing that job are so complex. As heart disease has grown to be the biggest killer around the world, physicians like myself who deal with the heart have witnessed the many ways disease can ravage the carefully tuned mechanisms that keep the heart beating. This week we celebrated World Heart Day, and I want to spend a few minutes talking about ways to overcome some of the daily barriers preventing you from keeping this wonderful and important organ healthy. Read more  »

Getting Ready for Flu Shot Season

Doctor giving a flu shot

While the weather has stayed warm here in New York, the crisp chill of the early morning air is reminding me that fall is right around the corner. While fall is the season of turning leaves and all the beautiful colors that come with it, it’s also the season when the flu virus starts to take hold. It might seem like only yesterday that you got your flu shot, but the flu season will be starting up soon and vaccines are already making their way into the hands of doctors and nurses around the country. Before the flu season starts in earnest, I want to spend a few moments walking through the flu vaccine with you, the options likely to be available this season, and why you should get one this season.


It’s Time to Kick Off Season 7

Happy young woman watching television on sofa

Summer is over, which means we’re kicking off a brand new season of The Dr. Oz Show. It’s hard for me to believe that we’ve already hit the seventh season, and I’m amazed every day by the ways the show continues to impact the lives of viewers and readers like you. Excitement is running high here in our New York studios for all that we have in store for you this season. Here’s a little preview of the things I’m most excited about. Read more  »

Understanding Ovarian Cancer and What You Can Do About It


A lot of people worry about their cancer risk and for good reason. Cancer is the second biggest killer of Americans after heart disease and good amount of it is preventable. I’ve talked a lot about ovarian cancer on the show because it’s a big killer of women and because knowing your risk factors and some of the warning signs can be a lifesaver. Take some time with me this week to learn about this cancer and what you should you be looking for. Read more  »

Staying Healthy on the Go Is Easier Than Ever


As the summer continues and most of us spend more time outdoors and on the go, I want you all to take a moment to think about how you track your health when you are on the move. It’s so important to be in tune with our bodies, whether we are relaxing at home or lounging at the beach (with sunscreen of course!). The great thing is that nowadays it is easier than ever to keep track of your health wherever you are.

You’re probably familiar with AskMD by now – we’ve talked about it on my show and I’ve featured it here a few times, too. It’s a great resource for learning what could possibly be causing symptoms you’re experiencing, and you can use the app on your mobile phone or right here at doctoroz.com/askmd.

This week, my friends at Sharecare launched AskMD for Apple Watch. AskMD for Apple Watch helps make you more proactive about your health because it makes it easier to manage your health.

You can start a consultation right from Apple Watch by opening up the AskMD app and using Siri to let AskMD know what symptoms you are experiencing. And because AskMD saves your consultations in your profile, you can access that information in the app on your phone or on Apple Watch.

You can even use Siri to add more detail as your symptoms evolve. Let’s say your back pain has moved from the center of your back to your lower back, or has become more intense. Use Siri on Apple Watch to add notes to your completed back pain consultation anytime, to make sure you remember to share them when you check in with your doctor.

And speaking of checking in – AskMD gets a little more personal with Apple Watch! A day or so after you’ve finished a new consultation, Apple Watch asks how you’re feeling, and keeps track of whether you’re feeling better or worse, and tracks that with your consultation. It’s like having a gentle reminder to make sure you’re keeping an eye on your well-being, which is something we all need time to time.

I know everyone doesn’t have an Apple Watch, but whether you do or not, AskMD makes it simple to take care of yourself. If you haven’t yet, download it today in the App Store or check it out here to start managing your health – easily.

Why Knowing You Have Atrial Fibrillation Could Save Your Life

High resolution man drawing chart heartbeat

As a cardiothoracic surgeon, taking care of the heart is central to what I do in keeping my patients alive and healthy. While sometimes that means surgery, often times it means figuring out what’s causing heart troubles so they can be treated and damage to the body prevented. One of those diseases is atrial fibrillation (AF), which affects millions of Americans and can play a role in devastating and deadly and strokes. In spite of that, many people don’t even know what atrial fibrillation is and whether they should be worried about it. In the spirit of Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, I wanted to run through some of the essentials of this common condition. Read more  »

Tackling the Misinformation on ‘Healthy’ Soda

Children Drink A Lot of Soda

If you’ve been following the news lately, you might have seen a lot of press about soft drinks. The New York Times recently published an article about how Coca Cola has been funding researchers to publish results that make their products seem healthy. San Francisco was also recently sued by the American Beverage Association, which represents the interests of companies that sell sugary drinks, for passing laws that would put health warning labels on their drinks. In reading through some of the legal documents, I was struck by the way soda companies were arguing that sugary beverages have nothing to do with the obesity and diabetes epidemics surging in our country. With all we know about how unhealthy these products are, how could that be? I want to some time this week to talk about the misinformation these companies are using to trick you and to help you try to figure out what to believe.

Not All Calories Are Alike
Beverage companies want to make it seem as though the source of the calories you eat matters less than the number you eat. The problem is, we’ve seen time and again in a variety of studies that not all calories are created equal. We know that fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains lead to better health than potato chips, candy bars and soda. They might have similar calorie counts, but their effect on your body is radically different.

Some of that is because different sugars are broken down in different ways by your body and can have different effects on your metabolism. The differences in digestion of these foods can also play a role. But there’s a lot we still don’t understand that probably has to do with the complex ways our body handles the nutrients present in fruits and vegetables that makes them so much better for us than processed foods.

Ultimately, beverage companies want you to think it doesn’t matter so that you’ll choose their drinks over healthier options. But it does matter and choosing a diet low in added sugar and high in fresh, whole foods is the best way to take care of your body. Read more  »

Why Tracking Your Progress Is so Important

Overweight Woman With Digital Tablet Checking Calorie Intake

I’ve seen a few patients recently who have been trying to lose weight for a long time. Most of them feel like they’ve tried everything, but many feel like they’re getting nowhere. Sound familiar? I’ve met a lot of people who find themselves in a similar situation and I want to share a tip from some of the healthiest people I know: track your progress. Tracking can be a great motivator and help you to figure out when something’s working for you and when it isn’t. But even with all of the fancy calorie counters and fitness trackers on the market, tracking progress can be harder than it might first appear. Here’s my advice on how to do it right. Read more  »

What to Do When Exercise Starts to Hurt

Family walking on cliffside path

The weather has been great lately and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunities to get outside get active with my family. But all that ball kicking and frisbee throwing has reminded me that I’m not quite as young as I used to be. While staying active is a great way to stay healthy well into old age, going overboard too quickly can lead to muscle soreness, joint pain and even injury. So what should you do if you find yourself lying on the couch cursing yesterday’s burst of exercise enthusiasm? Here are a few tips to help you recuperate. Read more  »