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New Blood Test Can Predict ‘Risk of Death Within 5 to 10 Years’

A team of scientists may finally have found an answer to a question that has long baffled humanity: Is it possible to predict death? Led by the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany, researchers studied 44,168 individuals and found 14 biomarkers in the blood that are “independently associated with death in people of all ages,” according to journal Nature Communications.

With over 80 percent accuracy, their predictions about a person’s risk of death within the next five to 10 years proved to be significantly more accurate than the ones made through conventional methods, such as measuring blood pressure and cholesterol.

“As researchers on aging, we are keen to determine the biological age. 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,” study director Professor Eline Slagboom said in a statement. He added, “We now have a set of biomarkers which may help to identify vulnerable elderly people, who could subsequently be treated.”

The team studied the metabolic biomarkers found in the blood of the participants aged 18 to 109 across Europe. These biomarkers were known to be involved in various processes including fatty acid metabolism, fluid balance, the breakdown of glucose, and inflammation.

A follow-up study with the same participants, ranging from three to 17 years later— over 5,500 participants died during this period— was conducted to find out how the presence of the different biomarkers was associated with the risk of mortality.

“Biomarkers give us important insight into what’s happening in health and in disease,” IFL Science quoted Dr Amanda Heslegrave, a researcher at University College London’s Dementia Research Institute, as saying.

“In this new study, a number of the markers are validated and implicated in long-term mortality and the authors suggest that more could be, which would be a worthwhile exercise,” Dr Amanda, who was not directly involved in the study, commented.

“Whilst this study shows this type of profiling can be useful, they do point out importantly it would need further work to develop a score at the individual level that would be useful in real-life situations,” Dr Heslegrave continued, “So, it’s an exciting step, but it’s not ready yet.”