Recently, scientists have developed a blood test with a key lifespan indicator that might reveal when you’ll die. While they still can’t identify the exact day you’ll pass on, these markers can be used as a predictive tool to determine your risk of illness, or even death, within the next five to 10 years.
14 Markers Say When You’ll Die
In Europe, a team of researchers collected data from more than 44,000 people aged 18 to 109 years old. Approximately 5,500 participants died across the study’s duration. From those that died, researchers identified 14 different substances, or “markers” from their blood samples that were associated with a risk of death, for example, blood sugars or low-density lipoproteins (or LDL, the ‘bad cholesterol).
Ultimately, the team found 14 biomarkers associated with mortality in people of all ages. When these levels get too high or too low, they can be indicative of certain health risks.
These key identifiers helped the team create a predictive tool that flags whether a person is likely to die within a five- to 10-year time span. How accurate were the predictions? In a recent study, researchers reported an 83% overall accuracy rate.
While the test itself remains fairly non-specific as a “death prediction” tool, its applications in the health community are obvious. The test can be used as a preventative measure to assess risk in people who aren’t yet showing signs of ill health. “Right now, we have many tests and models to predict future events — cardiovascular, fracture risk, breast cancer,” Alana Serota, MD CCFP CCD at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York tells Parentology. “All are used to guide treatment choices in shared decision-making between patients and doctors.”
Of the new predictive markers, Serota says, “this (new test) is, perhaps, simply a more expanded version of what we currently have. Most of these other tests are tied to actionable changes to decrease said calculated risk.”
The Science of Aging
Predictive tests have many applications, but certainly one of the most intriguing is the idea of increasing life expectancy. While aging and death are inevitable, the science of aging has changed.
Predictive tests can potentially be applied to drugs aimed at longevity. Dr. Eric Verdin, CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in California told OneZero researchers have begun viewing aging as a disease that can be treated. “We have a number of drugs… with the very specific aim of slowing down aging,” Verdin said. “The problem is, how do you measure this?”
In this light, predictive tests could be used at various intervals during treatment to see if a person’s risk goes up or down. Eventually, patients might get a predictor test at a checkup to help doctors recommend preventive measures and prescriptive treatment.
In the end, a prediction tool is not a death sentence, it only shows where you are based on where you’ve been. The data shows you where you stand. The ‘prediction’ is only accurate if no changes are made.
“Sometimes the simplest things have the greatest health impact,” Serota says. “Wearing seatbelts, a bike helmet, immunizations, etc. If the test inspires people to make positive, evidence-based lifestyle changes and healthy choices, that would be wonderful. I’m a bigger fan of adding life to years than years to life.”