News / Health

New Blood Test Predicts Five-Year Mortality

Jessica Berman
Researchers have developed a blood test that can predict the likelihood that you will die in five years. The controversial “death test” needs more work before it can be used by medical professionals, and public health officials.

The test identifies four protein and metabolic markers which everyone has in their blood. By measuring the specific levels and relative amounts, scientists come up with a 'score' that predicts the risk of death from all causes, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other natural causes.

Most striking, the biomarkers predict short-term mortality risk in generally healthy subjects with no known disease.

In a study involving more than 17,000 people in Finland and Estonia, scientists screened blood samples for more than 100 proteins, identifying those that are known indicators of mortality risk.   

Five years later, in a follow-up study of health registries, they found that individuals with a certain combination of the four biomarkers were up to five times more likely than the general population to have died. In the Estonian sample, one in five people with the highest biomarker score died in the first year of follow-up.

Johannes Kettunen is a researcher at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Writing in the journal PLoS Medicine, he says it is not really a “death test,” as some people are calling it.

“These are not deterministic, of course," he said. "They are just indicators of risk for each individual.”

Kettunen says more research is needed to identify which indicators or combination of biomarkers point to specific causes of death. Until then, he says the blood test is not very useful and could even be harmful.  

He adds a blood analysis that only predicts short-term mortality raises moral questions.

“If we can not do anything for the higher risk, even I would not want to know that I was at higher risk [of death], because there is nothing that can be done,” he says.

Ideally, the blood analysis will be used to prevent early death by narrowing the causes and pointing toward health interventions. Kettunen predicts a specific test could be available for use by doctors and other clinicians in five years.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rodney from: Spokane
February 28, 2014 4:09 PM
I disagree! If i knew i would die soon, I would change my priorites. i.e. Retirement savings would become irrelevant.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid