Dr Manny's Notes

Don’t count on a blood test to predict lifespan

Can a blood test really predict your chances of living to be 100?  Don’t count on it.

Scientists reported Thursday a new blood test can predict a person’s chance of living to 100 with up to 85 percent accuracy.

Boston University researchers studied the DNA of 801 centenarians – those who live to be 100 years old - compared to a control group of 914 healthy people of all ages.  They identified 281 genetic variants in the centenarian group and, using those variants, developed a blood test.

The researchers claimed their test could predict whether people would live beyond 100 with 60 to 85 percent accuracy, and the accuracy increased with the age of the participant.  In other words, the older the participant, the more reliable the calculation.

In my opinion, the idea of using a blood test to determine how long you will live is misguided.  Just because there are genetic mutations associated with longevity does not mean that you’re guaranteed to live a long life.  Your genes, while influential, don’t have control over all aspects of your life.

The only thing that has been found effective in prolonging your life is lifestyle, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, not smoking, and getting preventive physical examinations.  

What people need to understand is that we should not be focusing on a number – we should instead be focusing on how we age.

Right now there is no tool – drug, pill, potion, or cream – that will arrest the aging process.

So the best advice I have for people as they get older is to maintain certain degree of adequate health based on their age, while at the same time enjoying their lives.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.