We all die at some point but it would be nice to know exactly when you’ll get shuffled off this mortal coil so you can plan the rest of your life accordingly. As it so happens, scientists have actually come up with a way to (roughly) predict your life expectancy and it involves a blood test.
In a paper published in Nature Communications by the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany, researchers developed a new blood test that predicted someone’s mortality risk within five to 10 years.
Over 44,000 healthy patients aged between 18 to 109 took part in the study, all of whom provided blood samples and had their health events tracked for up to 16 years. By measuring 14 “biomarkers” in the blood, the researchers were able to predict the likelihood of death within the next five to 10 years with an 83% accuracy rate.
Now before you go asking your local pharmacist for this magical blood test that will predict when the grim reaper is going to pay you a visit, there are a number of things to keep in mind about this study.
Firstly, the 83% accuracy rate sounds pretty good and is about 10% more accurate than other life expectancy indicators. However, a 17% error rate is too high for the blood test properly work in the real world.
Put it another way, it means 1 in 6 people will get the wrong prediction.
Secondly, the test doesn’t give you the be-all-and-end-all answer of when you’ll cark it. Rather, it is a marker of your physical condition and is aimed at providing an insight into how healthy (or unhealthy) you are so you can change your lifestyle accordingly.
And lastly, there’s still much more work to be done in this specific field of research. The tested subjects were all European so there’s a lot of unknowns regarding people from other ethnic backgrounds, not to mention what happens to your life expectancy when you’re rocking pig organs instead of human ones.
Researchers say their designed test isn’t quite ready for doctors to use on patients but are hopeful it will one day be used to provide a guide on treating people with ailments less serious than the touch of death. So don’t hold your breath for this future-predicting blood test any time soon.
But hey, we’re one step closer to cracking the code of when exactly we’ll die so be patient. And besides, why stress over when you’re headed to the pearly gates when ignorance is bliss?