When we’re young, we think we’re immortal. It’s only after middle age that the aches, pains and slow erosion of the senses confirm there’s something bad coming down the line, but we just don’t know when it’s going to hit.
Well now for those inquisitive enough to want to know when they might die, two boffins from Sweden and a British health charity have come together to create a five-minute online test for those aged between 40-70 that can estimate your time of final departure.
The UK Longevity Explorer or UbbLE is claimed to be “the most accurate indicator of five-year mortality ever created.” The test is based on data taken from 500,000 volunteers, who were each tracked for nearly five years and assessed according to 655 health, lifestyle and demographic measurements. The researchers then used complex algorithms to determine which of the measurements were most closely linked to the participants’ mortality. Amazingly the researchers were able to whittle these 655 measurements down to roughly twelve factors that could determine an individual’s chance of surviving the next five years.
The questions asked vary for women and men—with women having eleven questions, men thirteen. The results from this test are claimed to be 80% accurate—based on further tests of 35,000 people.
The set of questions asked by the test.
The questions are more first world problems than anything realistic. For example, owning a car or several cars is good, while owning none suggests you are poor and therefore living off a poor diet and no doubt a slob.
Being married or living with a partner and having kids is good for you, while being single and living on your own is sending out a handwritten invite to the Grim Reaper.
Smoking basically means you’re dead and if you’re not dead, well, hell you ought to be. Having cancer or having suffered any kind of serious illness or loss of a relative will also dramatically whittle down your life expectancy.
As a single man who lives on his own, smokes, doesn’t drive, doesn’t have a car or a van, and is a cancer survivor, I was given an UbbLE estimated age of 77-81 years (okay….) and have a 75% chance of getting through the next five years—which as a betting man is not bad odds.
One of the co-authors of the test Dr. Andrea Ganna, from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, is quoted in the press as saying:
‘The fact that the score can be measured online in a brief questionnaire, without any need for lab tests or physical examination, is an exciting development.
‘We hope that our score might eventually enable doctors to quickly and easily identify their highest risk patients.’
Some scientists and academics are intrigued by the findings but doubt the online test can seriously determine how long a person will live based on a set of questions. Kevin McConway, a professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said:
‘This is a good study that tells us some things we didn’t already know, and points the way to future use of a large and important data set. But it certainly isn’t some sort of oracle that you can use to predict exactly when you will shuffle off this mortal coil.’
While Professor David Coggon, of the University of Southampton, said:
’I have doubts about the practical value of such scores. Most of the predictive factors do not directly cause disease, and even where they do, few are under the control of the individual. The authors suggest that knowing one is at higher risk may be an incentive to changes in lifestyle, but experience with smoking and obesity suggests that knowledge of increased risk has only limited impact on most people’s behaviours.’
If you want to try the test youself click here, otherwise just keep reading your horoscope, it’s probably just as accurate and far more entertaining.
H/T Daily Mail