CT scanner

Take care with your claims

“Lifescan, like an MOT for your body”

Lifescan is a company offering you a CT scan to provide an “MOT for your body”. Their original TV advert described it as “a quick and easy scan that could detect the early signs of life-threatening diseases, way before the symptoms begin”. It is also described as a “check-up all in one go”.

In 2010, however, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media – ruled that the advert could no longer be broadcast in its original form after complaints from two medical doctors. According to the ASA, the advert implied that CT scanning in patients with no current symptoms could pick up any kind of underlying health problem, and they ruled there was no evidence to back up these claims.

The ASA also ruled that Lifescan didn’t provide enough information about the potential risks of exposure to radiation. According to a 2007 report from a governmental advisory committee, a typical CT scan carries a 1 in 2,000 lifetime risk of developing a fatal cancer.

Although this risk might be acceptable in high-risk patients, it might be unacceptable for people without symptoms.

Lead image:

Wellcome Images

Questions for discussion

  • How much information can a company reasonably be expected to include in a short advert?
  • To what extent is the consumer responsible for doing their own research before having a scan?

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Number Crunching’ in June 2013.

Statistics and maths, Health, infection and disease, Medicine
Number Crunching
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development, Undergraduate