CBS Promotion of Dr. Steven Hotze
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) has complained to CBS about its promotion of Steven Hotze, M.D. Last month, on The Early Show, Hotze stated that (a) hypothyroidism is a very common cause of fatigue, particularly in women older than 50, (b) hypothyroidism is diagnosed more accurately by analyzing the patient's symptoms than by doing blood tests (c) the best medicine for treating hypothyroidism is desiccated thyroid, and (d) misdiagnosis and mistreatment of hypothyroid patients by doctors is very common. All of these statements are false. The letter below was sent by AACE president Bill Law, Jr., to an Early Show executive producer.
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
1000 Riverside Avenue, Suite 205
Jacksonville, FL 32204
Ph: (904) 353-7858
October 18, 2005
Mr. Michael Bass
Senior Executive Producer
The Early Show
524 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019-2902
Dear Mr. Bass,
On behalf of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), I am writing to express our extreme concern and disappointment with the unchallenged and scientifically erroneous comments offered to your viewing audience by Dr. Steven Hotze during his appearance on the September 19 The Early Show and the effect that this information may have on the health of patients with thyroid disorders.
Clinical endocrinologists are specialists in the care and evaluation of patients with hormonal disorders such as thyroid disease and diabetes. AACE is the largest professional medical organization of clinical endocrinologists in the United States, with over 5,000 member physicians practicing endocrinology throughout the United States and abroad. In order for a physician to become a member of AACE, he or she must demonstrate expertise in clinical endocrinology. The vast majority of AACE members are board certified in the field of Endocrinology and Metabolism by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Qualifications for board certification include the successful completion, after graduation from medical school, of 5-6 years of additional intensive training in accredited programs in internal medicine and Endocrinology and Metabolism. The ABIM has not certified Dr. Hotze as a specialist in endocrinology, nor is he a member of AACE.
Many of Dr. Hotze's claims about the incidence and development of an underactive thyroid condition, commonly referred to as hypothyroidism, were completely erroneous and unsubstantiated, and are readily refuted by a large body of solid scientific evidence. Several examples follow:
1) There is no evidence whatsoever that supports Dr. Hotze's statement "by the time a woman is 50 years old, her thyroid function will decrease by 50 percent, causing her to feel exhausted, depressed and wondering how she's going to make it through her day. But the thyroid lab tests may read normal."
2) He opined incorrectly that thyroid malfunction is caused by changes in thyroid-binding globulin (TBG).
3) Treating patients with ANY type of thyroid hormone solely because they have symptoms that are commonly associated with hypothyroidism is potentially hazardous. Such symptoms are also very common in the general population, most of who do NOT have hypothyroidism and will NOT experience any sustained improvement in their symptoms with thyroid hormone therapy. A scientifically-based diagnosis of hypothyroidism must be made before initiating therapy. Inappropriate thyroid hormone treatment with ANY preparation can lead to thin bones, known as osteoporosis, and cause potentially life-threatening abnormalities of the heart rhythm. Furthermore, when a serious condition such as malignancy or depression is the basis for the patients' symptoms, a delayed diagnosis while waiting to see the effects of treating an unsubstantiated diagnosis of hypothyroidism may lead to preventable suffering and even death.
4) Animal-derived desiccated thyroid, which Dr Hotze endorses and describes as "natural," is not a natural form of thyroid replacement for humans at all. It is an obsolete product obtained from ground-up cattle and pig thyroid glands. The chemical composition is quite variable, since only the iodine content is measured, and the amount of biologically active thyroid hormones in each tablet is not quantified. This makes it extremely difficult for even a trained specialist to properly adjust the dose to fit each patient's needs.
Dr. Hotze's broad-based allegation that physicians' first line approach to their patient's complaints is to use an antidepressant is insulting to hundreds of thousands of qualified, caring, and thoughtful American physicians. It would be unfortunate and potentially harmful if any of your viewers chose to avoid proper medical attention because of it.
It was truly astonishing and puzzling that Ms. Syler, an educated professional journalist on a national television' program, would not challenge the validity of Dr. Hotze's statements in any fashion. His self-serving performance amounted to a thinly veiled infomercial for his practice and book, and the fact that it was permitted, and even invited, does not reflect well on your network.
AACE believes strongly that the national forum CBS provided to Dr. Hotze was a great disservice to your viewers, particularly those seeking and needing scientifically substantiated medical advice on the treatment of hypothyroidism. AACE would be happy to provide legitimate professionally-recognized medical experts to appear on CBS to discuss thyroid and other hormonal disorders in the future. In the meantime, we encourage you to view AACE's guidelines on thyroid disorders at www.aace.com.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Bill Law Jr., MD, FACE, FACP
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
AACE is a professional medical organization with more than 5,200 members in the United States and 84 other countries. Founded in 1991, AACE is dedicated to the optimal care of patients with endocrine problems. AACE initiatives inform the public about endocrine disorders. AACE also conducts continuing education programs for clinical endocrinologists, physicians whose advanced, specialized training enables them to be experts in the care of endocrine diseases, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, growth hormone deficiency, osteoporosis, cholesterol disorders, hypertension and obesity.
This article was posted on October 19, 2005.