Life serves up plenty of unknowns, but as amazing as it would be to know whether you’ll have landed your dream job in five years, gleaning scientific insights into your future health to predict your lifespan tops all of that. And as crazy as it sounds, that very ability might be coming sooner than you think.
Yale University scientists have developed a “lifespan calculator” that compares the apparent age of your cells with your chronological age to garner a more accurate prediction of how long you’ll live, according to Daily Mail. But even if you could get that expiration date, would you?
The blood test measures lifespan through nine biomarkers—such as white blood cell count, globular protein levels, and other genes and disease characteristics. Researchers say in a paper published in Biorxiv the indicators were selected for being a strong factor in people’s risk of death in two intensive health studies: one of 10,000 people over a six-year period and another of 11,000 people that spanned 11 years.
“In young or middle-aged people, everyone thinks they’re healthy and fine, but that’s not always the case. This test could actually tell people their real risk, so they can monitor those factors before they become a problem.” —Dr. Morgan Levine, lead study author
You may think it’s super dark to learn when you might die, but the scientists say the information gleaned from those biomarkers won’t just predict your lifespan—it can help you extend your existence by pinpointing your future health risks. “In young or middle-aged people, everyone thinks they’re healthy and fine, but that’s not always the case. This test could actually tell people their real risk, so they can monitor those factors before they become a problem,” says Yale pathologist Morgan Levine, PhD, lead study author.
Dr. Levine adds that the results could serve as an opportunity to tweak your lifestyle—be it through diet, exercise, or other habits—to live longer than you would without knowing the information. And that feeds into Levine’s next goal: showing how different factors—from dietary to lifestyle and socioeconomic—influence people’s biological aging process. “You could give [people] a hypothetical ideal measure for how much they could improve based on lifestyle factors. With genetic tests like 23AndMe, you’re stuck with what you have, whereas all these measures are modifiable,” she says.
There’s no word on when this lifespan-predicting blood test will be commercially available, but you shouldn’t fear it. After all, knowledge is power: It might just be the very thing that keeps you alive and kickin’ longer.
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