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BMC Med. 2015 Jan 9;13:5. doi: 10.1186/s12916-014-0239-6.

The Hundred Person Wellness Project and Google's Baseline Study: medical revolution or unnecessary and potentially harmful over-testing?

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto M5T 3L9, Ontario, Canada.


The Hundred Person Wellness Project is an ambitious pilot undertaking, which aims to intensely monitor 100 individuals over 10 months. Patients with abnormal findings will be treated, in hopes that this early intervention will avoid, or delay, symptomatic disease. Google's "Baseline Study" is of similar scope and will enroll 10,000 people over 2 to 3 years. I here speculate that these approaches will likely not be effective in preventing disease, but instead, lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful interventions. Examples from the cancer screening experience over the last 30 years are provided, which show that intensive testing may uncover indolent disease or incidental findings which, when treated, may cause more harm than good. Additional examples show that aggressive treatments for cancer and other diseases do not always lead to better patient outcomes. I conclude that the recent advances in omics provide us with unprecedented opportunities for high content clinical testing, but such testing should be used with caution to avoid the harmful consequences of over-diagnosis and over-treatment. Despite the detailed rebuttals by Hood and colleagues in another commentary in BMC Medicine, time will show the actual benefits and harms of these ambitious initiatives.

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