The Pros and Cons of Prenuvo Body Scans

Health advancements in the treatment, prevention, and prevention of various illnesses are made each day. Prenuvo is one such tool that could help you on a path to better health. Here's why.
Pros and cons, making a decision

What do Kim Kardashian, Cindy Crawford, Paris Hilton, and Maria Menounos have in common? Besides being among some of the world’s most beautiful women, they are part of a growing number of celebrities taking to social media to post their praises of Prenuvo, a full body scan designed for early detection of as many as 500 medical conditions.

Introduced in May 2023, Prenuvo can identify various cancers, tumors, and aneurysms before symptoms show up, saving lives. Just ask Menounos, whose pancreatic cancer was found in a stage so early that the actress was able to have the tumor removed with surgery and did not have to undergo chemotherapy treatments.

“Prenuvo really fills a hole that’s not filled by the current health system, which is to provide a very comprehensive screening option for people that want to know in advance of symptoms what might be going on inside their body,” said Andrew Lacy, Prenuvo founder and CEO per NBC Chicago.

Prenuvo machine
Image Courtesy of Prenuvo

 In a world where healthcare is predominately reactive, this proactive approach is getting lots of attention, not only for its ability to save lives but also because, well, it’s a little bougie. The company knew what it was doing when it offered free scans to influencers and celebrities in exchange for an optional, honest review. Those reviews, combined with a hefty price tag, have made Prenuvo a sort of status symbol among those who can afford it, which begs the bigger question: should access to good health be reliant on wealth?

The Pros

Doctor looking at X-ray, MRI, etc.

Many serious health problems, like pancreatic cancer, are often undetected until it is too late. That’s because the symptoms typically don’t show up until the disease has already progressed to an advanced stage. Lacy is trying to change the narrative around healthcare by making people aware of potential problems while there is still plenty of time to do something about them.

In an interview with People, he explained, “Waiting to address health issues once they have already taken hold leads to delayed diagnoses, costly medical treatments, and diminished quality of life for patients. Prenuvo gives people the opportunity to make lifestyle modifications before potential health concerns become dire and ultimately lead happier, healthier lives.”

Forbes describes Prenuvo as “part of the quantified self-movement that focuses on monitoring and collecting personal data to improve your health. The movement includes technology that monitors sleep, blood glucose levels, heart rate, exercise, and other aspects of your daily life.” 

Since the invention of the smart watch, we have become a society obsessed with steps and other health statistics. Viewed through that lens, Prenuvo seems like the ultimate “tracker” diving deep into our bodies and producing as many as 2000 high-resolution images that can identify problems, or potential problems, more accurately than the standard MRI. It not only offers peace of mind, but it also provides a sense of control over one’s own health, giving patients the power of knowledge.

The Cons

money doesn't matter

That power comes with a price, and one of the biggest arguments against Prenuvo is that it isn’t accessible to everyone, as is evidenced by the celebrity ‘Grams. The cost starts at $999 for a torso-only scan, $1799 for a head and torso scan, and $2499 for the entire body. Oh, and did we mention that your insurance won’t cover it?

“For patients that have HSA or FSA, they can use those accounts to pay for preventative scans. For patients that have more traditional insurance, we give them a super bill that they can then use to claim on their insurance and, to be perfectly honest, with variable results. The insurance companies still are very much catching up with preventative health technologies,” Lacy said in the NBC Chicago interview, adding that the company’s goal is to get the costs down to make the procedure more affordable for everyone.

But even if you can afford it, many in the medical profession advise against it, including Dr. Vijay Yanamadala, a spinal surgeon and CEO of Sword Health. In an article in USA Today, Dr. Yanamadala called it “unnecessary and unwarranted,” claiming it “creates significant psychological distress for individuals who now have to deal with potentially months of work-up to conclude that it was an incidental finding.”

Additionally, the risk of false positives can result in patients spiraling down a rabbit hole of expense and potentially invasive treatments. Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, director of the Radiology Outcomes Research Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco, told The New York Times, “The problem has to do with the profound, normal variation in our bodies,” she said, adding that the high sensitivity of the machine will pick up on random, yet perfectly normal abnormalities.

The Bottom Line

Woman talking to her doctor

In a world where so many things are out of our control, it’s tempting to want to control as much as possible. That’s why, for some people, Prenuvo seems like the ultimate tool to add to their health and wellness arsenal, right up there with exercise and a healthy diet.

At the minimum, it can alert you to potential issues and allow you to modify and adjust your lifestyle to correct them before they become a problem. At best, it could catch a serious medical condition and potentially save your life. The bottom line? If you can afford it, it might be worth the peace of mind.

However, you have to be aware that false positives can occur. You must also remember that even the most advanced technology is just that—technology. It’s not infallible. At the end of the day, if you are in good health and have no family history of disease, then it might not be worth it. The American College of Radiology released a statement saying there was “no documented evidence that total body screening is cost-efficient or effective in prolonging life.”

As Smith-Bindman points out in the New York Times, early detection is the key to managing cancer. Still, she reminds readers that there are other, more affordable ways to catch it, like the cancer screening schedule your doctor recommends for you — which, by the way, is covered by insurance.

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