Would You Want To Know? Life Expectancy Test Could Become Reality

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Would you want to know how long you’re going to live? In the coming months, it could become a possibility.

A new blood test is being developed that could give you a look at your longevity.

Everyone wants to know what life has in store for them, but how comfortable would they be knowing how long they had to live?

“My life would be a nightmare, because it would be all I would be thinking about,” John Banter said.

“You need to honestly live every day like it’s your last,” said Samantha Ballard.

There’s a simple blood test that will soon be available that may be able to tell people how quickly they’re aging.

“These tests are really measuring…biological age, which is only loosely correlating with chronological age,” pathologist Dr. Mark Freidman of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital said.

The test measures how old your body really is – not how old you are in actual years, but by looking at the length of telomeres.

Telomeres are the green tips on the end of the chromosomes, the genes that carry our DNA. Scientists believe that the shorter your telomeres, the faster you’re aging.

“The longer that is, apparently, the longer you might live,” Dr. Friedman said. “As you age, they get shorter, and that might predict your aging process which, again, may have some correlation with how long you’re going to live.”

The test is still new, and there is no formula yet that can predict how much time you really have left, but experts say they can provide a window into your health.

“Very short telomeres are what are behind a lot of different age-related diseases,” said Dr. Calvin Harley, chief scientific officer at Telome Health.

Doctors say shortened telomeres may put you at a higher risk of cancer or heart disease. Even stress can speed up the aging process, impacting the telomeres.

“Chronic stress itself is causing accelerated cellular aging through telomere-shortening,” Dr. Harley said.

“You find a shortened telomere, there’s really no medication or treatment or anything that you can really do about it at this point, other than to improve your lifestyle,” Dr. Friedman said. “But even without this test, we already know that you should be trying to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible.”

Doctors have expressed concern that knowing life expectancy could have a strong emotional impact on a person’s behavior.

There’s also concern that predicting life span could lead to abuse by insurance companies, saying they could use the results to deny people or gouge for coverage. Industry experts, though, said that’s not the case.

“We already have a lot of information that’s pretty easy to get at, and pretty reliable in terms of predicting how long a group of people might live,” said Steve Weisbert, senior VP and chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute.

The test is set to be available in the fall, and is expected to cost between $500 and $700.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Kristine Johnson
  • Lee

    I will definitely have this test done. Its just more information. I think it”s necessary for me, but I agree it won’t be for everyone.

  • Christopher

    I have HIP. I wonder if they would cover the cost?

    Also, my Great Great Grandfather was born just after the Civil War and lives with 10 yaers of my birth in 1970. He was born in 1870. That’s on my Mom’s side. Also, my Grandmother and I email eachother fairly regularly. She will be 86. On my Dad’s side, six years ago, we celebrated my Aunt Tabitha’s 98th Birthday! And people always swear I am anywhere between 25 and 35, even though I will be 41 this year!

  • Vovix

    I am a bit skeptical about validity of this for the following reasons:

    1. Aging seems to be a little more complex than just telomeres. Their length can increase or decrease risk to die, but this is not the only factor. I think more and more fundamental research is needed. Besides, there always are environmental factors, biological and physical. This is only an estimate.

    2. An error of extrapolation: an attempt to project the future based only on current trends. Who said we’ll just sit and wait to die? Our knowledge in life sciences doubles every 3 months, eventually in NN years left by this test one could expect if not completely curing aging, then at least slowing it or partially reversing. Getting know more about our bodies gets us, on average, closer to that goal.

    In general, It seems worth to remind again: Aging is not the destiny. We can, and we will change it. So please relax, stop worrying about the “inevitable” and better think over what you can do right now to improve your future, be it your telomeres or your state of mind.

  • Ash Woody

    This is great! Now insurance companies can charge customers accordingly. Your premiums can now be customized according to how well you do in the genetic lottery. Fairness at last.

  • zurin

    I think its very good for us to know our “potential” life expectancy so we all can do something about it. On my part, since I think i am a healthy, sporty guy I would like to know the limit that I can expect to live and then take action to ensure that it comes true! lets all live life to the Fullest!!

  • Jay

    But one could still die from an accident of some sort. Half of all deaths are from accidents: car, plane, drowning, stairs, murdered, sport accident, etc. So what does measuring this matter to see how healthy and aging your DNA is, even if it says your body could live to 105, and accident could still take you out at 65. So it’s useless, doesn’t matter what the blood test says.

  • Bob

    Here we go again, Godless scientists with another unproven theory. Remember, coffee is bad for you. Remember, coffee is good for you. Remember coffee is bad for you. Remember coffee is good for you. Publicity seeking bums, get out of our lives!

  • Miriam

    This is such poor reporting. In the first place, as the doctors are trying to get through, this has only the loosest correlation with actual life span. You MIGHT be at more risk with heart or cancer if your telomeres are shorter. But do we really need another test to tell us to stop eating so much bacon and ice cream? Or to stop rubbing chemical-laced sunscreens into our bodies and spraying it all over our food? People already know they shouldn’t do these things, yet they choose to do them anyway because of the sin nature that we are all born with. It saddles us with a self-destructive streak that doesn’t care what happens, so long as my immediate desires are sated and I don’t have to face my guilty conscience, consider my responsibility to God for my life or give any serious thought to death or after.

    In the second place, people always say they wouldn’t want to know: as if that would somehow ruin the remaining time they have. But does that fit with what we know about ourselves and others? Do you know anyone who is actually living their life as if they really know they won’t live forever, and ought to treasure the time they have and prepare themselves for the future? Aren’t most of us trying to ignore death, or pretend to ignore it while we distract ourselves with whatever is at hand?

  • Lawrence

    As I am now 69 it don’t matter

  • flea

    “The Immortal”…..starring Christopher George (1970-1971)

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