New Blood Test Could Predict Life Expectancy

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 19, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: Medical science has come up with a blood test that could predict when you will die. In Houston, for example, you can take the test for about $300 bucks. It's designed to tell people what their biological weaknesses are, leading to an assessment of how long they might live. Is that worth $300 bucks to you?

Here now, Dr. Philippa Cheetham from Columbia University Medical Center, and Fox News medical contributor Dr. Manny Alvarez. So, Manny, are you impressed by this test?



ALVAREZ: Complete bull. Charlatan. It's not true. This is all biological science out of context. They want to sell you pills. They want to sell you creams. They want to sell you things. This has nothing to do with the reality of medicine today. Nothing.

O'REILLY: What about this burgeoning or booming, I should say, longevity industry? I mean, they -- human growth hormone they give you, DHEA, all of this business. This is becoming an enormous industry.

ALVAREZ: It's a multibillion-dollar business. It's a business. It's a dollar-making business.

O'REILLY: But isn't science progressing to the fact that they can analyze the human body and tell you what you're predisposed to having?

ALVAREZ: Medical science is getting to a lot of personalized medicine, all right? Cancer therapies today are looking at different ways to give you specific medication to treat your cancer, because we know that the biology of a lot of things do change, are individual to you. Your heart disease is your heart disease. My diabetes is my diabetes. So when you get into treatment, you do better by looking at the individual patient. Now, getting from that to "I'm going to take a test. It's going to cost you $300. It's going to tell you when it's -- when you're going to die or what kind of things you're going to be," that's all bull.

O'REILLY: Do you agree, Dr. Cheetham?

DR. PHILIPPA CHEETHAM, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: I do. And I think, you know, I do a lot of work with PSA screening for prostate cancer, and it causes a huge amount of anxiety for people.

O'REILLY: Sure. If they know they're going to die in three months, that's not easy. But you can, you know, sell your car and do -- take a nice vacation, so it might have some benefit.

CHEETHAM: And these tests, you know, they create the worry while people get results. And then they compare with their friends, and they don't really...

O'REILLY: But Manny says it's a scam, flat-out bull. Do you agree?

CHEETHAM: I do agree. And I think it's taking advantage of people who are in vulnerable situations. And if the insurance companies get this information and their employers get this information...

O'REILLY: Sure, it can hurt them in a variety of ways. But isn't there an industry now that is -- and we're seeing this in a lot of the political legislation -- that is preventative, that if you know you're predisposed to having cancer or heart disease or whatever it may be, then you can take steps early to prevent the disease or at least, you know, arm yourself?

CHEETHAM: Sure. But this test is claiming that it's assessing people's biological age. We do that every day in the office when we see patients. Patients come in, and I see a 50-year-old who looks 70, and a 70-year-old that looks 50. And we're giving patients advice about diet and lifestyle. And this is the advice that we give to patients anyway. You don't need a test to do that.

O'REILLY: I'll ask you the same question I asked Manny. Is medical science progressing fast enough to be able to predict what you're going to be sick with at the end of your life?

CHEETHAM: Well, there are millions of diseases, as you know, and there are many things in medicine that remain unknown, as we now know. So I don't think this test is going to be useful for patients.

O'REILLY: OK, but here's my point. My family, the guys, the Irish guys, OK, stomach problems, all throughout the family. I mean, I'm predisposed for stomach problems.

ALVAREZ: Well, listen, you said something very intelligent two minutes ago.

O'REILLY: Uh-oh. That could be a problem.

ALVAREZ: You said something very intelligent. You said prevention is out there, and they're now looking at preventing things. True. That is intelligent because what you want to do is you want to die healthy, right? You don't want to die -- if you look at somebody who is really not fit and is not paying attention to heart disease and prevention and all of that, when you get to be 55, you're going to be spending a quarter of a million dollars out of pocket being in and out of hospitals until you die at the age of 75.

O'REILLY: Sure, you've got to be smart about how you live your life.

ALVAREZ: So you want to die all the way healthy and when it's time to go, it's time to go.

O'REILLY: Each human being is predisposed, Dr. Cheetham, to have weaknesses in your body. It's just DNA.

CHEETHAM: Sure. Sure, but we know...

O'REILLY: Shouldn't we know what they are?

CHEETHAM: That's not the whole story. And we know that people who have heart disease, if they take good care of their blood pressure, their diabetic risk factors, they don't smoke, they take regular exercise and they monitor their cholesterol, so...

O'REILLY: But neither of you believe that medical science is at the point now where you can go in and they can look at you head to toe, MRI, blood test, whatever it may be, and predict what's going to happen to you?

CHEETHAM: I think that may come in the future.

O'REILLY: So do I.

CHEETHAM: But I think at the time, at the current time...

O'REILLY: They don't have it?

CHEETHAM: ...we are very much in danger of making people's health worse.

O'REILLY: Manny, do you want to go down to Houston and take that test for us?

ALVAREZ: I could, but I wouldn't tell you.

O'REILLY: That might be interesting.

ALVAREZ: My intention is to die happy and not knowing a lot of facts.

CHEETHAM: You know, the great thing, Bill…

ALVAREZ: I don't want to know anything. I don't want to know anything.

O'REILLY: Well, you're well on your way to that, Manny.

ALVAREZ: You got it.

O'REILLY: Thank you.

CHEETHAM: If you have a risk of Alzheimer's, at least whatever we tell you, you won't remember.

O'REILLY: That's right. You don't care. That's what I say. I believe in God because if there is no God, so what? I'm dead. Doesn't matter, right? If there is, at least I've got a shot. Doctors, thanks very much.

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