Do you think you are healthy? How do you measure this? Today, it is possible to receive full body testing, also known as a comprehensive physical examination, as part of Setting Your Health Baseline. You can see if you are healthy and then use this baseline to track how your lifestyle changes improve or degrade your health.
Ten years ago, full body testing was not recommended. The dangers of the tests and risks of false-positives outweighed medical sciences ability to cure what was found or prescribe preventative measures. That concern still exists today within mainstream medical practice. However, technological advancements have reduced the dangers of radiation exposure to safe levels and the detail which modern equipment can see the body has dramatically reduced the risk of false positives.
The biggest remaining modern issue is whether you want to know if you have a serious, undiagnosed medical or genetic condition, that may or may not be treatable. If you want to know or are curious about the experience, read on as we review the Human Longevity Institute’s Health Nucleus 100+ full body testing service.
Setting Your Health Baseline Part 2: The Human Longevity Institute's Health Nucleus Experience
Craig Venter is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century, in particular for his work in sequencing the human genome. In pursuing his passion for human life extension, he co-founded the Human Longevity Institute (HLI). Although Dr. Venter is no longer affiliated with them, HLI provides proactive healthcare through comprehensive advanced full body screening and genetic analysis which they’ve branded as their 100+ Health Nucleus program to assist you to live to over 100 years old.
Health Nucleus full body testing has been performed for over 1,000 clients and discovered clinically significant results in 40% of those with 14.4% requiring near-term or immediate follow-up. Study results included many other actionable findings.
Health Nucleus 100+ goes way beyond your mainstream annual physical testing. Full body testing covers:
- Full body cancer and tumor MRI screening combined with GRAIL’s Galleri multi-cancer blood test
- Neurologic diseases and brain disorders
- Proper cardiac structure and function along with heart monitoring using Apple Watch or Zio iRhythm
- Coronary calcium CT scan
- DEXA bone density testing
- Aneurysm detection
- Proper organ structure and function (kidney, liver, prostate, etc.)
- Colon cancer screening with Cologuard
- Blood (40+ biomarkers) and urine analysis via LabCorp. The HLI staff painlessly draw 14 vials of blood, which from the research of the Conboy Laboratory, provides unexpected additional health benefits.
- Insulin sensitivity testing with FreeStyle Libre
- Body composition analysis with InBody 770 determining your percentages of body fat, muscle and water
- Balance testing
- Genetic issues from whole genome sequencing analyzed along with your personal and family medical history
- 12 months of comprehensive 24×7 primary care including same day acute care
Health Nucleus full body testing currently does not cover:
- Skin cancer detection
- Microbiome analysis
HLI partners with GE and Siemens to develop and deliver advanced MRI technology. MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of brains, organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays). Machines used include:
- For brain scans, HLI uses the GE Discovery MR750 MRI machine which is 5x more powerful for image quality than normal hospital machines and costs over one million dollars. At HLI, you get to listen to Pandora while the machine beeps and whirs. Select your music wisely so they blend together harmoniously. Scanning takes about 15 minutes.
- For body scans, HLI uses the Siemens Magnetom Skyra MRI scanner. This takes about 45 minutes including some controlled breathing during the last 10 minutes for additional accuracy.
- In 2022, HLI is may upgrade to a single machine which does both.
- The Computed Tomography (CT) test using GE Revolution CT equipment is a diagnostic imaging test used to create detailed images of internal organs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels. The cross-sectional images generated during a CT scan can be reformatted in multiple planes, and can even generate three-dimensional images. CT scanning is often the best method for detecting many different cancers since the images allow your doctor to confirm the presence of a tumor and determine its size and location. CT is fast, painless, noninvasive and accurate. Radiation exposure is the equivalent of what you receive on a round-trip cross-country flight.
Human Longevity’s Health Nucleus program originally provided one-time full body testing for $25,000. As of 2021, the annual cost is $10,000. The information gathered is kept private and you own it, but they do use your depersonalized data for their research. They are located in San Diego and expect to open a San Francisco facility in 2022. You can choose to share selective data with your primary care physician as you like.
So what does it feel like to go for an HLI Health Nucleus exam?
A few hours before your visit, it is normal to feel nervous, in part from the ten hour pre-visit fast, plus any time change from traveling to the West Coast. Your stomach may be jittery from hunger.
It is likely you will be wondering what flaws will be found. Given the comprehensive nature of the test, it would be surprising if nothing is uncovered. If issues are found, you hope there are modern treatments that are safe and worth doing. Although it might be upsetting to think about, if there are genetic issues, you wonder whether you will share those with family and relatives.
Writing notes on the experience is helpful to calm your thoughts and you will be very much looking forward to your next meal.
The visit requires advance scheduling and lasts 5-6 hours. Once there, the Human Longevity Institute building and staff make you feel comfortable. The building and the rooms are reminiscent of a luxury hotel. The HLI staff appear healthy and take good care of themselves.
Each patient gets their own private room with healthy snacks and new-age beverages such as Flow, Glow and Life Water. An awesome, tasty, fresh local food breakfast or lunch is provided after the blood draw is completed.
You go through a cycle of the various tests, each with a different medical specialist. Their stories on why they work there are fascinating. One would not likely be alive otherwise.
At the end of your visit, you meet with a staff physician to review some of your full body testing results. For example, you get to see your brain, heart, liver, kidneys and other internal organs and find our if there are any major concerns. If you see things you don’t like such as cardiac calcium in your heart and a high body fat percentile, you have strong motivators to change your diet. You receive your body composition report as well.
The Full Results:
After a couple weeks, full imaging, blood and urine results are provided via a secure portal and covered in a 30 minute video call with your concierge physician.
After 8-10 weeks, genetic results are delivered in a portal document combined with a friendly video conference call. The genetic results were fascinating. They come with a ~100 page report which covers ancestral history, medically significant findings and a review of genes which respond to medications. For example, there can be a genetic risk to taking Warfarin (Coumadin) for those with the VKORC1 gene. There is an appropriate amount of explanation and detail. Not too much. Not too little. It is not surprising to have medically significant findings given ~20,000 protein-coding genes and ~1,600 known possible genetic diseases. There are only fifty genetic defects which are considered medically actionable. There are 4.0 to 4.3 million genetics variants per person.
Chapter 3 focuses on health traits and risks. It turns out that lifestyle is much more a risk than genetics. More people need to know this. In discussions about lifespan and healthspan, the refrain is, “I’m relying on my genetics.” Unfortunately, life usually doesn’t work that way.
The Health Nucleus exam exceeded expectations and is highly recommended. The pleasantly surprising result is knowing what conditions you do not have. Finding out things like you don’t have cancer and you didn’t seriously damage your liver in college (or at least it has fully repaired itself) are reassuring. There is tremendous comfort in peace of mind.
Seeing conditions you do have, like cardiac calcium, makes your personal health science real. It gives strong motivation to make changes such as following the American Heart Association’s dietary and lifestyle recommendations for preventing heart disease, the cause of 1 out of 3 deaths in the United States.
Also, knowing your genetic interaction with common medicines is important. They are useful to share with your primary care physician.
In Keep Health’s opinion, the likelihood of benefiting from extended healthspan and lifespan is worth more than the time and cost.