Jessica Jensen, a Silicon Valley executive, considered herself a healthy person. She ate well, exercised regularly, and managed her job and family responsibilities. However, in spring 2021, she decided to try a full-body MRI offered by Prenuvo, a boutique clinic. The MRI detected a cyst on her pancreas, which turned out to be stage 1 pancreatic cancer. Jensen credits Prenuvo with saving her life.
The popularity of full body scans is growing among wealthy individuals, particularly in places like Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. While no official medical body has sanctioned the practice, celebrities and venture capitalists are flocking to clinics and sharing their experiences on social media. These scans are part of the quantified self movement, which emphasizes making health decisions based on personalized data.
The appeal of full body scans lies in the promise of elevated, individualized care powered by data and artificial intelligence. Start-ups like Forward Health, Everlywell, Signos, and Ezra offer various health services, including real-time bloodwork, home test kits, continuous glucose monitoring, and full-body scans. The financial backers of these companies, including Anne Wojcicki and Esther Dyson, have been involved in the biohacking and health-tracking movement for years.
While critics argue that there is no evidence to support the effectiveness and cost efficiency of full-body MRI scans, proponents believe that early detection can save lives. Public health experts agree that many cancers are caught too late, and new methods of early detection are needed. However, there are concerns about incidental findings and the potential anxiety and follow-up procedures they may lead to.
The American College of Radiology and American College of Preventive Medicine have not recommended full-body screening, but proponents argue that more scanning and personalized baselines can address false positives. Limited large-scale data on people who have undergone full-body MRIs is available, as the practice is still relatively new. The companies are working on developing artificial intelligence to bring down the costs of scans.
In conclusion, the trend of full-body scans has gained popularity among wealthy individuals, especially in tech hubs like Silicon Valley. Proponents of these scans believe in the potential for early detection and personalized care, while critics raise concerns about incidental findings and costs. The debate surrounding full-body scans continues, highlighting the evolving landscape of healthcare and the role of technology in personal health management.