Documentary on Broken U.S. Health Care System Features UCSF Health Researchers

UCSF's Dean Ornish, Elizabeth Blackburn, Peter Carroll Appear in ‘Escape Fire,’ Which Opens Nationwide Friday, Oct. 5

Americans spent more than $2.6 trillion on health care last year, including $320 billion on pharmaceutical drugs, yet health outcomes are not improving.

Dean Ornish, MD

Dean Ornish, MD

A new documentary, “Escape Fire,” tackles this issue and examines a broken U.S. health care system that’s “designed for quick fixes rather than prevention,” according to filmmakers. The film, directed and produced by Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke, also highlights pioneering efforts to transform the system and bring effective, low-cost solutions to the public.

“Escape Fire” features compelling interviews with leaders and experts in health care, including Dean Ornish, MD, UCSF clinical professor of medicine and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute; Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, UCSF professor of biology and physiology; and Peter Carroll, MD, MPH, UCSF professor of urology.

The film highlights the UCSF researchers’ efforts to show that comprehensive lifestyle changes – such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and reducing stress – can have a significant impact on disease outcomes. Ornish, Blackburn and Carroll conducted studies showing that those lifestyle changes may slow, stop or even reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer and severe coronary heart disease by increasing telomerase activity, which lengthens telomeres that control aging in human chromosomes.

Q & A with Dean Ornish for the Premiere of “Escape Fire”

Friday, Oct. 5
Vogue Theater, 3290 Sacramento St.

  • $7 discounted admission to the film with UCSF ID
  • Q & A after the 4:30 p.m. showing and before the 7 p.m. showing
  • For more film information, go to

“People often think it has to be a new drug or a new laser or something really high-tech and expensive to be powerful. And they have a hard time believing that these simple choices that we make in our lives each day can make such a powerful difference,” Ornish says in the film.

“Escape Fire” opens nationwide Friday, Oct. 5, and will be playing at the Vogue Theater in San Francisco and the Rialto Cinema Elmwood in Berkeley.

Ornish will appear for a special Q & A session on Friday at the Vogue Theater after the 4:30 p.m. showing and before the 7 p.m. showing. Anyone with a UCSF identification card is eligible for a $7 discounted movie ticket (normally $10.50 for adults, $8 for students) at the Vogue.