I look forward to an incredibly fun and challenging year as ACG President. Some of my main goals are to improve communications and interactions with our members and to focus on the Education Universe. Our portal should be easy to navigate and provide College members with one-stop shopping through the world of gastroenterology. Meanwhile, I’m thinking about food. It’s a natural, or so it should be. As a GI society we need to focus more on the impact of food (diet) on health. We can come at it from many directions (sort of a “top down” approach coming from the IBD world). The public health challenge of obesity is a no brainer, but we are getting savvier about the impact of diet on other “new world” diseases including eosinophilic esophagitis, celiac, IBD, IBS, etc. We need to bring food to the national table and educate the public regarding myths and realities, as well as advocate on behalf of our patients regarding healthier dietary approaches to feed healthy guts, bodies and brains. The College should continue to partner with industry, both food and pharmaceuticals, which are already integrating towards standards for “medicinal foods.” Billions are spent on irrational supplements; why not make them rational or get rid of the waste. Speaking of munchies, I’m concerned about the medicalization of cannabis. In my state of Illinois, doctors are required to attest that a “patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the use of medical cannabis to treat or alleviate the patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptoms of the debilitating medical condition…(and that) the potential benefits of the medical use of cannabis would likely outweigh the health risks for this patient.” How am I to do this without the clinical data need to make these risk-benefit decisions? Haven’t we moved from anecdotal to evidence-based medicine? We are now being placed between a public that wants access and state (and federal) governments that would require us to behave in contrast to the manner in which we have been credentialed. I’ve asked our colleagues at the CCFA and AGA to work with the ACG to advocate for some rational policies. Many more thoughts to come. I plan to contribute to this blog regularly. Let’s communicate!
Stephen B. Hanauer, MD, FACG ACG President 2014-2015 Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine