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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid