Thursday, 19 May 2011
A CONTROVERSIAL blood test that can predict when you will die is set to go on sale.
The £435 procedure analyses a person's chromosones to work out how quickly they are ageing.
But critics warn it could lead to insurance firms demanding results before issuing policies or hiking premiums because of an unfavourable result.
Researchers hope the test, which goes on sale in the UK later this year, will lead to major breakthroughs in age-related illnesses such as heart disease, Alzheimer's and cancer.
It works by..
measuring the length of a person's telomeres - tips of chromosomes which shorten with age.
The test on cell building blocks was devised by a team led by Madrid-based cancer researcher Dr Maria Blasco and is being co-ordinated by her firm, Life Length.
Professor Jerry Shay, who is a scientific consultant for Life Length, admitted he has concerns about the impact of the procedure.
He said: "People might say, 'If I know I'm going to die in 10 years, I'll spend all my money now', or 'If I'm going to live for 40 years, I'll be more conservative in my lifestyle'.
"The worrying thing is that if this information ever got to a point where it is believable, insurance companies would start requiring it in terms of insuring people.
"If you smoke or you're obese, your insurance rates are higher.
"And if you have short telomeres, your insurance rates might be higher too."
There are also fears the technique could be exploited by firms peddling bogus anti-ageing remedies.
But Dr Blasco insisted: "It will be useful for you to know your biological age. Maybe you would change your lifestyle habits if you find you have short telomeres."