Here’s what celeb doctors Dean Ornish and David Katz said when I asked about their involvement in freaky alt-med organisation (one of them accused me of harassment!)
Last month, I blogged about the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), an LA-based integrative medicine organisation with ties to Ryke Geerd Hamer, a ghoulish German doctor who lost his licence in 1986 after a number of patients in his care died.
In 2007, Dr. Dean Ornish, best-selling author and White House policy/public health advisor during the Clinton and Obama administrations, was awarded¹ the distinction of “Excellence in Integrative Medicine” from IMMA’s breast cancer research charity, the Heal Breast Cancer Foundation (HBCF).
Based on Hamer’s widely discredited theories, HBCF believes that cancer can be prevented and even cured via a “biopsychosocial and holistic understanding of the body, mind, spirit and environment connection.”
Dr. Dean Ornish (photo by Joi Ito)
Dr. Ornish’s other connections to pseudo-science have been criticised by anti-quack medicine experts, still it was surprising to see him featured alongside Quackwatch regular Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, who claims that “happy people generally don’t get sick,” and Gary Craig, inventor of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), sometimes described as “emotional acupuncture.”
When I asked about Dr. Ornish teaching at MHU, Fisslinger replied that he had invited Dr. Ornish to teach, but had “not confirmed anything.”
When I asked Dr. Ornish, he initially replied that he has “no relationship” with MHU. He subsequently clarified that he in fact had been invited to speak, but had “not yet confirmed anything.”
Dr. Ornish did not respond to questions about his participation in the 2007 gala and 2013 summit.
— The Katz Connection
Dr. Ornish was replaced in the above list of “Guest Faculty Speakers” by celebrity nutrition expert and author/columnist Dr. David L. Katz, founding director of the CDC-funded Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.
Dr. Katz is also listed as an MHU faculty member in the organisation’s 2015 programme.
When asked about his relationship with IMMA or MHU, Dr. Katz replied that he has never endorsed any of the company’s programmes or products.
“I once gave a talk, via Skype, on my model of integrative medicine for something called the Meta Health Summit [but] that is the extent of my involvement,” said Dr. Katz.
Dr. David Katz (source)
I also asked him about his correspondence with German journalist Aribert Deckers.
A few weeks before the 2010 “Integrative Medicine Congress” – an IMMA event held in Munich, at which Dr. Katz was scheduled to appear – Deckers wrote an open letter to Dr. Katz informing him about IMMA’s ties to the notorious Hamer.
Here is Dr. Katz’s June 17, 2010 reply to Deckers:
Thank you for these precautions, Aribert.
The speech was canceled roughly a week ago; I would hope the website would promptly be updated to reflect that.
Three years later, Dr. Katz gave his Skype talk at the 2013 Meta-Health summit.
Deckers then published a statement accusing Dr. Katz of “knowingly support[ing] a lethal cancer fraud.”
After having sent my email (Date: Thu, June 17, 2010) to Prof. David Katz, and having spoken with his office I thought that he would stop from making further contacts with the “meta-mediciners”. But that is not the case: Prof. David Katz AGAIN is on the list of speakers at a “meta-mediciner” “symposium”. But this time he can not claim to have known nothing.
Responding to Deckers’ accusations, Dr. Katz said he doesn’t recall the exchange, but reiterated that he “did not support anything,” stating: “I gave a talk, and permission to promote only that.”
As of publication, Dr. Katz is still listed as a “Guest Faculty Speaker” at MHU.
I asked Dr. Katz if he had signed-off on the sale of these videos.³
Dr. Katz then referred me to his attorney, Alan Neigher, who didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. When I again asked Dr. Katz, here’s what he sent me:
You have asked me the same questions several times, and I have answered them. My office has done the same. At this point, you are harassing us. Kindly state your agenda.
David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM
Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center
Read part one and two of my series on the Meta-Medicine movement here:
²According to Johannes Fisslinger’s April 29, 2013 e-mail to Dr. David Katz, the presenters of the 2013 Meta-Health summit were said to include Bruce Lipton, Dr. Dean Ornish, Wayne B. Jonas (Samueli Institute) and John Robbins.
³According to Johannes Fisslinger’s April 29, 2013 and July 8, 2013 e-mails to Dr. David Katz, Fisslinger offered Dr. Katz the option to become a Meta-Health “summit partner,” by which Dr. Katz would receive “50% commission on all upgrade summit sales,” including “digital downloads or DVD sets.”