Leaving Las Vegas
Monday, October 20
I just spent the week in Las Vegas attending the Fall Conference of the American College for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM).
What a strange juxtaposition! Several hundred doctors gathering to learn about the latest techniques in detoxification, held in a town where everyone is hell-bent on getting maximally polluted!
To get to the lecture halls and exhibits, you had to traverse a windowless casino full of typical revelers, smoking, gambling, drinking, and eating a variety of unwholesome foods. Many appeared vitamin D deficient from hours of playing blackjack or the slots--outside, the sun shone brightly, but inside the gaming halls the lights were perpetually dimmed: 24/7, gamblers relentlessly stoked their dopamine receptors. Wonder what PET scans of these people's brains would've revealed!
While we ACAM docs talked about cancer and heart disease prevention, fellow occupants of my hotel were busily acquiring these diseases. Particularly alarming was the number of overweight folks--not just those carrying a few extra pounds, but truly morbidly obese. At times, a dozen or so behemoths would be in view, lumbering painfully across the casino or perched precariously on stools in front of video poker or blackjack screens, looking like patients in the waiting room of a gastric bypass surgeon.
Then I noticed something peculiar. Uniformed security guards carried the usual radios, handcuffs, but also--I couldn't believe my eyes!--stethoscopes. And for good reason: heart attacks and sudden deaths are probably as common as jackpots in the casino. I saw this painfully confirmed when I watched one of these guards escort a disasterously inebriated, reed-thin woman of 60 (or it may have been 45?) off the gambling floor. She looked as sallow as if she had not consumed a fresh fruit or vegetable in the last 20 years.
All was not lectures and hard work. We celebrated ACAM's 35th anniversary with a great party whose featured guest was Suzanne Somers. Suzanne is a serious champion of alternative medicine, and she gave a great speech praising us holistic docs for having the courage to buck the system and offer natural alternatives to patients like her.
I was privileged to be the emcee of the event, and gave a short talk. My theme was the impending crash of our "over-leveraged", wasteful, inefficient, and toxic medical system.
I made the point that, just like our financial system, our medical system is headed for imminent collapse. But, just like Wall Street, conventional medicine is lurching drunkenly along, and will not be fundamentally reformed until it founders. "People," I said, "Don't expect either of the current presidential candidates to deliver a brand new health care system by December, 2009 like a shiny new Christmas toy!"
Rather, the solution lies with innovative preventive and treatment strategies offered by doctors, now far in the minority, who practice complementary and alternative medicine. That's why ACAM has survived for 35 years, and despite attacks from conventional medicine, why doctors like us will be ready with a "bailout" when our once-vaunted medical system becomes unsustainable, and is powerless to halt the progressive deterioration of Americans' health--a crisis that will make today's financial meltdown look like a mere blip.
(More on some of the highlights of the Fall ACAM meeting in later blogs, plus fabulous pictures of the banquet with Suzanne Somers!)