Someday, a Simple Blood Test Could Predict How Well You’ll Age

Testing the blood for biomarkers may reveal secrets about your health.
Healthy aging

Photo via istock.com/Mikolette

Someday, a simple blood test could help you predict the future.

Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health, the Boston University School of Medicine, and Boston Medical Center may have found a new way to judge how well you’ll age. Testing a small amount of blood for levels of specific biomarkers—chemicals found in the bloodstream—may give doctors high-level insights into how your health could deteriorate or stabilize over time, according to a study published in Aging Cell

The research team tested blood samples from nearly 5,000 participants of the Long Life Family Study, ranging in age from 30 to 110, and found 26 distinctive biomarker patterns. After cross-checking those results with mortality and disease rates, the researchers found that roughly half of the individuals have a pattern that denotes “average” aging; some have patterns associated with specific conditions; and a few have a pattern that suggests disease-free aging.

“These signatures depict differences in how people age, and they show promise in predicting healthy aging, changes in cognitive and physical function, survival and age-related diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer,” the authors wrote in the paper.

About a third of the patterns matched available data gathered from the Framingham Heart Study. That verification is important, since the Long Life Family Study specifically studies clans with many members who have reached old age. The Framingham study does not study such a population, and thus may be a more generalizable sample.

Eventually, with more research, this type of testing could be used to predict your likelihood of developing certain diseases long before you ever see symptoms, the researchers say. Armed with that knowledge, preventative or early-stage treatment could begin much sooner.

Imagine that: In the future, a vial or two of blood may be all that stands between you and a long, healthy life.


Jamie Ducharme Jamie Ducharme, Health Editor at Boston Magazine jducharme@bostonmagazine.com


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