Find out when you’ll (probably) die with one quick blood test. (Picture: Getty)
File this under things we’re terrified to know. Still a really important medical discovery though, obvs.
Scientists from King’s College London have come up with a new blood test that could predict when a person will die, their risk of dementia, and their biological age.
The researchers say that looking at how well your body is aging is more useful than your actual ‘years on the planet’ age. Their new test looks for an ‘aging signature’ in your body’s cells by analysing the behaviour of 150 genes.
Some people, they suggest, age more quickly than others, and so may benefit from screenings for dementia and cancer from an earlier age.
The test was developed by looking at 54,000 gene markers in healthy, but mostly sedentary, 25 and 65 year olds. They narrowed these down to 150 genetic markers which make up what they call “a molecular signature for biological age”.
They told the BBC: ‘Finding this biological signature means we’re now able to look at individuals and project their future health. We’ve been able to demonstrate the same signature in muscle, human brain, skin and blood, and blood is obviously the more convenient place to look at it.’
The researchers then tested whether this molecular signature could be used to predict how quickly someone was aging. They tested a group of 70-year-old men from Sweden, and were able to predict which of them would die in the following few years.
So effectively, this test is a pretty massive deal, allowing us to have some clue of how soon we’re going to die. Bit depressing, but maybe it’s good to know?
Sadly, the research and the resulting blood test don’t give any indication of how to slow down this internal aging process, so once you know how old you are inside, there’s not much you can do.
While lifestyle choices like spending a lot of time sitting down and eating unhealthily will affect your health, there’s no indication that they have any impact on the speed you age.
But the test still has massive potential benefits, such as predicting someone’s risk of Alzheimer’s, indicating individuals who may benefit from earlier screenings for age-related issues, such as dementia, and testing the ‘youthfulness’ of organs donated for transplants.