Predicting the Future: New Blood Test for Longevity?
Soon to be available in the U.K , the test measures the length of telomeres, a DNA structure which controls the longevity of dividing cells. The shorter the telomere, the faster you are aging. A very specific blood test can determine telomere length and, based on the length can use an algorithm to assess longevity based on current lifestyle.
Life Length, a research company based in Spain, developed the test and is working on approvals throughout Europe and America. While the test will not tell you the exact date or year of your demise, it can make predictions within a decade.
“Knowing whether our telomeres are a normal length or not for a given chronological age will give us an indication of our health status and of our physiological ‘age’ even before diseases appear,” said Maria Blasco, the head of the telomeres research at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, in Madrid.
The test involves blood being drawn at a lab and will take about four weeks for results.The cost to know your fate: In England the price is set at£435, which is roughly $705 at today’s exchange rate.
The upside of a test like this is that you have the opportunity to make lifestyle changes that will benefit you and increase your lifespan, should you choose to do so. A study published online and in print form, inThe Lancet Oncologyin 2008, gathered evidence showing major lifestyle changes may extend life and prevent premature cell death.
Thirty men with low-risk prostate cancer who were asked to make significant lifestyle changes participated in a study lead by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, a UCSF biochemist and known for her discovery of telomeres, along with her lead colleague Dr. Dean Ornish.
The men were introduced to their new lifestyle, which lasted for three months, during a three-day residential retreat. They were taught stress reduction techniques, and given instructions on how to follow their strict diet, that involved a 10 percent lower calorie diet from fat, low refined sugars, and a diet filled with fresh fruits, veggies, whole foods, fish oil and supplemental vitamins. They were also taught to incorporate a moderate aerobic activity to their daily regimen and even learned relaxation methods, and breathing techniques.
Telomerase levels for the men were taken at the beginning of the study, and again after the three-month period. Researchers discovered telomerase in the blood increased by 29 percent and bad cholesterol decreased. Telomerase is an enzyme that repairs and lengthens telomeres, a DNA protein complex which affects how fast cells age.
Would you be willing to take the test? Would you alter your life accordingly or continue on the path you are on?