> *TUESDAY June 14th AT 11:45 AM*
> Dr. Walter M. Bortz II
> A Perscription for Fixing the Health Care System
> Walter M. Bortz II, M.D., a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine
> at Stanford University School of Medicine and a graduate of Williams
> College and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, is
> recognized as one of America's most distinguished scientific experts
> on aging and longevity. In his latest book,/ Next Medicine: The Science
> and Civics of Health/ (Oxford University Press), Dr. Bortz shows how
> the defects of American healthcare threaten the stability of the nation,
> and argues that the financial interests of biotech and drug companies
> have eroded the values of the medical profession and placed profit
> before human well-being.
> Dr. Bortz will describe his prescription for a long, healthy life, how
> our current healthcare system has strayed from its central commitment
> to personal well-being, becoming expensive, industrialized and inefficient,
> and how a shift in emphasis from treating illness to encouraging healthy
> lifestyles is needed for us to reach our healthy human potential.

Dr Bortz began his talk by sharing an anecdote about behing Terman's physician, back when he was a big force at Stanford. Then he explained that he got interested in aging when they took a cast off his leg and he saw that the one in the cast had aged a lot compared to the other one. Since then he has boiled his definition of aging down to "Aging is the effect of energy flow on matter over time." His first peice of advice on how to beat it was "The race of life goes not to the first but to the last one to slow down."

Dr. Bortz was the son and grandson of other doctors. He grew up expecting to give value to the community as a doctor. In his lifetime healthcare spending went from 2% of GDP to 17% of GDP. His analysis of the current state of medicine is "total body pain" caused by mixing too much capitalism and science into the profession. There are far too many ways that it is optomized now to enhance the cash flow of the health care providers instead of the health of the patient.

It was not always the way it is now. Until Pasteur came along, you put money in the collection plates on Sunday morning to protect against the "the wages of sin", meaning disease. Once germ theory had proven that medical intervention could help the preisthood was releived of that role. The role of Doctors has evolved a lot since then. When he was young doctors couldn't see as much detail as they can now with tests, but medicine was a lot cheaper.

There are four determanants for the health of a car: Design, accidents, maintenance, and age. The story is very similar for humans. Dr. Bortz said that exercise is the key to health maintenance. He pointed out that runners may get as many as thirty more years out of life than their more sedentary friends.  

Aging problems start when a person's body gets down to only being able to provide 20% to 30% of the services it was capable of when a youngster.  The current medical establishment likes to take people in at that point and treat them with expensive drugs and surgeries. Prevention works at a much higher level, and much earlier in the disease progression. Dr. Bortz claims that programs like Fit For Learning do more good than all of the endocrinologists working at hospitals are capable of.

Dr. Bortz thinks that as soon as it pays to be healthy we will be healthy. He spoke glowingly of Singapore, which prevents children that are obese from advancing to the next grade level. He thinks a Doctor's primary job should be to teach health instead of only curing disease.

Dr. Bortz finished his talk by saying there is much more detail about his topic in his book, Next Medicine, The Science and Civics of Health.

For more information, please visit his website:


During Q&A there was a lot of discussion:

Dr. Bortz thinks that 90% of all cancers is preventable.

There is only one State in the USA that currently requires P.E. in schools.

One factor that is driving the need for exercise is the problem that industry has captured the principal of least energy, selling gizmos to take the work out of doing so many things we used to do for ourselves. Electric toothbrushes take the work out of brushing teeth. Golf carts take the exercise out of playing golf.

Tian Harter