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Dr. Oz rips critics, says some have ties to tobacco industry

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Thursday, April 23, 2015, 10:17 AM

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Dr. Mehmet Oz testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington last year.

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Oprah Winfrey raises a champagne toast to Dr. Oz in 2009.

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Dr. Oz during the filming of his show.

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Dr. Oz took a verbal scalpel to his critics Thursday while defending his long career in medicine against their latest barbs.

Mehmet Oz, the celebrity doctor championed by Oprah Winfrey, issued a lengthy statement to Time magazine responding to calls for his dismissal from a top job at Columbia University.

While his attackers called Oz “a quack,” the cardiothoracic surgeon said he was simply more open to “alternative routes to healing.”

And he charged that Dr. Henry Miller, the lead author of a scathing letter attacking Oz, had ties to the tobacco industry and supported the genetic engineering of crops — a cause opposed by the TV host.

Five of the 10 doctors who signed the letter are linked to the American Council of Science and Health, a group that Oz says “has reportedly received donations from big tobacco and food and agribusiness companies.”

The letter called on Columbia to dismiss Oz, a faculty member since 1993, from his post as vice chairman in the department of surgery.

The school quickly defended his right to speak freely outside the classroom.

Oz — who planned a televised response Thursday afternoon on his nationally-syndicated program — was unapologetic about his pursuit of thinking outside the treatment box.

“In some instances, I believe unconventional approaches appear to work in some people’s lives,” he wrote. “They are often based on long-standing traditions from different cultures that visualize the healing process in very different ways from our Western traditions.”

But he did offer a mea culpa for his embrace of miracle weight loss products over the years.

“I wish I could take back enthusiastic words I used to support these products years ago,” he wrote. “And I understand the criticism I’ve received as a result.”

Oz closed his defense by promising to continue speaking out on medical issues.

“No matter our disagreements, freedom of speech is the most fundamental right we have as Americans,” he concluded. “We will not be silenced. We’re not going anywhere.”

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lmcshane@nydailynews.com

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