Plastic advice

As I am flipping the Iranian satellite TV channels, I am bombarded by different medical programs. Almost all the TV and radio programs now dedicate hours a week to the medical “experts” who are there to help Iranians who call for medical advice. The problem is that this is probably illegal in the United States. Physicians are not allowed to give medical advice on any public media.

The story goes like this. An unfortunate Iranian who is or has a relative with a serious medical condition usually cancer, heart disease, MS, etc. After a few questions, a medical professional says that in his or her clinic they give a special vitamin made form the most natural herbs that can cure or at least improve the specific medical condition.

At times I am in awe of the ignorance of Iranians regarding medical issues. How can anyone who has a serious medical condition call someone they barely know half way around the world and ask for help?

What is amazing is that most of these people call from Iran, USA, Canada or Europe. In all these countries one can find the best medical specialists that people in need can refer to. Interpreters are provided in most countries to help those who have a language barrier. Yet instead of being seen by a medical professional who would take up to hours to take a proper medical history, medical exam, order appropriate tests before coming up with a medical diagnosis, Iranians tend to prefer getting a quick fix answer on the phone.

The medical advice phenomenon on TV probably started with a plastic surgeon called Dr. Mazaheri. This is a slick, well groomed plastic surgeon who is practically full of himself. He uses charming Iranian language to make his answers very believable. I can't comment on his answers on plastic surgery. But his advice on areas of medicine that are not his specialty like neurology, cardiology, respirology… are scary. I would not want to take my dog to him.

The second interesting character is Dr. Fereshteh Akbarpour. An assertive medical doctor who has a show on pretty much every Iranian channel. Although her explanations of different medical conditions in layman's terms is good, it is clear that her intentions are to sell her own multivitamins and herbal products.

I have repeatedly tried to call her and ask her if she knows of good clinical, scientific studies published in reputable journals that have shown any of her products are actually beneficial for different medical conditions. I was hung up on the two instances that I called. I still challenge Dr. Akbarpour to show me any scientific proof that her products are beneficial and I will the first person to use them.

It is unfortunate that some Iranian physicians are exploiting the trust of Iranians by marketing their products as the “cure all” for all medical conditions.I urge all Iranians who have a medical question to spend time and look for a good medical specialist in the city they live in and take the time to explain their condition in person with that physician.

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