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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 26, 2019

Benefits and harms of wellness initiatives

  • Clare Fiala , Jennifer Taher and Eleftherios P. Diamandis EMAIL logo


Wellness projects are large scale studies of healthy individuals through extensive laboratory and other testing. The “Hundred Person Wellness Study”, was one of the first to report results and lessons from its approach and these lessons can be applied to other wellness projects which are being undertaken by major companies and other organizations. In the “Hundred Person Wellness Study”, investigators from the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) sequenced the genome, and analyzed the blood, saliva, urine and microbiome of 108 healthy participants every 3 months, for 9 months, to look for subtle changes signifying the transition to disease. We discuss some of the possible shortcomings of this approach; questioning the need to “improve” biomarker levels, excessive testing leading to over-diagnosis and over-treatment, expected results and improvements, selection of tests, problems with whole genome sequencing and speculations on therapeutic measures. We hope this discussion will lead to a continued evaluation of wellness interventions, leading to strategies that truly benefit patients within the constraint of limited health care resources.

Corresponding author: Eleftherios P. Diamandis, MD, PhD, FRCP(C), FRSC, Head of Clinical Biochemistry, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network, 60 Murray St., Box 32, Floor 6, Rm L6-201, Toronto, ON M5T 3L9, Canada; Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and Department of Clinical Biochemistry, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Phone: +(416) 586-8443

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  4. Honorarium: None declared.

  5. Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2019-02-01
Accepted: 2019-03-05
Published Online: 2019-03-26
Published in Print: 2019-09-25

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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