Study: Countdown clock to death is in your blood

Biomarkers could determine mortality between 5-10 years


- – If there was a way to predict your own death, would you want to know when it would happen?

It sounds like the plot to a macabre sci-fi book, but German scientists are trying to bring the concept to life.

A study published in the journal Nature Communications outlines the results of a blood test that could predict the chances of death within five to 10 years. 

The Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany found that 14 biomarkers in the blood are independently associated with mortality.

According to the results, biomarkers include “various amino acids – the building blocks of proteins – and levels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol, fatty acid balances and inflammation.”

The study included 44,000 people between the ages of 18 and 109 in Europe. All participants were given a baseline biomarker reading, and were tested again 17 years later to see how the presence of biomarkers had changed overtime with age. More than 5,500 people had died in that span of time.

The knowledge from this study allowed scientists to make a prediction about the likelihood of death in a five to 10 year span based on biomarker levels. The researchers believe that this prediction method could be beneficial for the general public, but especially for those with health problems. If the blood test was used in a medical setting, practitioners could help make suggestions to improve health to prolong life, according to the study.

Researchers also say that this blood test is more accurate in predicting death than conventional methods like monitoring blood pressure or cholesterol. 

Although this technology requires more testing before it can be used in the medical field or by the public, scientists think the results could affect humanity as a whole.

 “As researchers on ageing, we are keen to determine the biological age,” said study director Elaine Slagboom. “The calendar age just doesn’t say very much about the general state of health of elderly people: one 70-year-old is healthy, while another may already be suffering from three diseases. We now have a set of biomarkers which may help to identify vulnerable elderly people, who could subsequently be treated.”

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