- Kim Kardashian promoted a full-body scan on her Instagram.
- Doctors advise against full-body scans because of the high number of false positives, invasive follow-up testing that can be stressful and painful, and costly.
- Preventive healthcare is important. Consult with your primary physician to determine what’s best for you. There are numerous tests that are proven to be safe and effective.
Kim Kardashian recently posted on her Instagram about undergoing a full-body Prenuvo scan, promoting the procedure and the importance of preventive healthcare.
“I recently did this @prenuvo scan and had to tell you all about this life saving machine,” she wrote in the caption. “The Prenuvo full-body scan has the ability to detect cancer and diseases such as aneurysms in its earliest stages before symptoms arise. It was like getting a MRI for an hour with no radiation.”
Her post has stirred up quite a bit of controversy among her followers and the healthcare community.
The price of $2,500 is costly and full-body MRI scans aren’t generally recommended by physicians as preventative care.
On their website, Prenuvo cites early detection of certain conditions as a potentially life-saving intervention.
“At Prenuvo, we believe that everyone should have the insights and information they need to make informed decisions about their health. Our goal is to help people live happier, healthier, and longer lives through early detection and unparalleled clarity into their health.”
The company offers three scans to cover the torso, the head and the torso,or the full body. The cost ranges from about $999 to $2499, according to the website.
However, the majority of the medical community advises against whole-body scans for numerous reasons.
According to a statement from the American Academy of Family Physicians, “Whole-body scanning has a risk of false-positive findings that can result in unnecessary testing and procedures with additional risks, including considerable exposure to radiation with positron emission tomography and CT, a very small increase in the possibility of developing cancer later in life, and accruing additional medical costs as a result of these procedures.”
“On the surface, full body scans seem like a great idea—why wouldn’t we want to do regular scans and catch problems early?” Dr. Ilana Richman, researcher at Yale Cancer Center and assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, told Healthline. “The issue is that scans often find small abnormalities, and we have to do more testing to figure out what these abnormalities are.”
Follow-up testing can be invasive, nerve-racking, and take up a lot of time.
Richman pointed out that follow-up testing may include getting a biopsy, which can be painful and has risks.
“In most cases, these abnormalities turn out to be false alarms, but by the time we figure it out, patients have undergone a series of tests that are stressful, time-consuming, and even painful,” Richman stated.
A second issue is that doing scans like this can lead to overdiagnosis.
All that said, the risks of full-body scans might be worth it if full-body scans were proven to save lives. But so far, that has not been demonstrated, Richman added.
“I’m happy that people are becoming increasingly interested in preventive medicine — putting time and effort into trying to maintain their health instead of just trying to regain it once it’s declining,” said Dr. Nate Wood, Yale Medicine internal medicine specialist. “When experts and professional organizations develop guidelines and recommendations about which things we should do to maintain our health and prevent disease, they’re largely asking themselves three questions:
“What’s the evidence?”
“What’s the risk?”
“What’s the cost?”
“In the debate over these full-body scans, like the ones that Kim Kardashian is promoting, I think folks are not fully appreciating the concern. Even if a full-body MRI was very cheap, we still wouldn’t be recommending them for everyone. There’s just not sufficient data to say that they’re beneficial across the board.”
In addition, there are risks to take into consideration.
“Risks include finding something that looks abnormal on imaging — which can lead to costly, invasive, and sometimes risky testing — that then turns out to be nothing to worry about. While certain types of body scans are recommended as screening tests for certain patients, full-body scans are recommended as screening tests for no one, rich and famous or otherwise,” Wood explained.
Wood continued: “Many of my patients already struggle to pay their medical bills. It makes me angry that profit-hungry companies are marketing these full-body scans to them — scans that are costly, unnecessary, and not covered by their insurance. There are much more effective preventive health measures that patients could be spending their hard-earned money on.”
In an emailed response to Healthline Dr. Sean London, a radiologist at Prenuvo, said that the company has identified many early-stage cancers in the past that were “potentially life-saving diagnosis.”
“The scan and report that we offer today is a result of the feedback and 12+ years of clinical exams that we have been performing. In our first 8 years of scanning patients in a clinical setting, we met with every patient and many of their physicians to go through our reports and findings,” London said. “Once physicians see the detail and comprehensiveness of our scan, they realize the power of its diagnostic capability and how it helps them not miss critical findings that would otherwise have poor outcomes that could also be more costly.”
Additionally, London pointed out that radiologists stratify risk for indeterminate findings and that they”use a multiparametric MRI imaging protocol, including whole-body diffusion weighted imaging to help characterize findings. These advancements in MRI technology enhance both the technical sensitivity and specificity of findings encountered in our whole-body MRI screens to meet a high radiological standard.”
“In cases where a lesion is determined to be ‘low risk,’ our medical team may recommend monitoring and reassessing the lesion in a follow-up screening after a period of time,” London said.
While full-body scans are not often the recommended approach by many in the medical community, preventive healthcare is important. If patients want to get an accurate, overall picture of their health — and one that’s more cost-effective and efficient — there are several effective ways to do so.
“Preventive care is absolutely important,” Richman stated. “Good preventive care starts with you and your primary care doctor. Your doctor can take a look your health history, age, and any risk factors, and make recommendations for tests or treatments that can prevent illness or catch it early.”
If you are interested in learning about what is available, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force maintains a list of preventive tests and treatments that have been shown to be effective (as well as ones that are not effective), Richman explained.
As a primary care physician, Wood said he spends a lot of time talking about evidence-based preventive healthcare with his patients.
“We do a lot of cancer and disease screening. We screen for cervical cancer with pap smears, colon cancer with colonoscopies, and breast cancer with mammograms,” Wood explained. “For qualifying patients who smoke or have smoked, we order yearly CT scans of their chest to look for lung cancer. We use ultrasounds to screen for aortic aneurysms and liver cancer in specific populations. We have questionnaires to screen for depression, risky substance use, food insecurity, and eating disorders. We assess diet quality with 24-hour dietary recalls and physical activity with the “Physical Activity Vital Sign.”
Wood explained doctors regularly screen their patients’ blood for high cholesterol, elevated hemoglobin A1c (a marker of diabetes), hepatitis C, HIV, and a host of other conditions. All of these screening tools are recommended because they are evidence-based and help us to better manage the health of our patients.
Get regular physical activity, at least 150 minutes per week, including a couple of days of resistance training. Be sure to get enough sleep, Wood explained. Develop healthy ways of managing and coping with stress. Limit risky substances, like alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Wear a seatbelt. Use sunscreen. Stay on schedule with vaccines. Maintain positive social relationships, and take part in a supportive community.
In a recent Instagram post, Kim Kardashian posted about a full-body scan, raving about the procedure and advising people to get their health checked.
The medical community generally does not support full-body scans because of the high number of false positives, and invasive follow-up testing, which can cause a lot of undue stress, pain, and high expenses.
Although full-body scans are not the recommended approach, preventative healthcare is essential. The first step is to speak with your primary physician and then decide which type of testing is best for you.