Every time the oldest people in the world celebrate a birthday, they're inevitably asked their secret to aging. Some cite alcohol, others the lack of it; some how much they sleep, others how little; many talk about just relaxing, and almost all pay homage to having good genes. Now researchers say the complicated blend of lifestyle and genetics can be tallied with a blood test thanks to advances in genetics and the cataloging of biomarkers, reports Live Science. "Many prediction and risk scores already exist for predicting specific diseases," the lead researcher says in a ScienceDaily release. "We are taking another step by showing that particular patterns of groups of biomarkers can indicate how well a person is aging and his or her risk for specific age-related syndromes and diseases."
For their study in the journal Aging Cell, researchers measured the levels of 19 biomarkers in blood samples from more than 4,700 people enrolled in the international Long Life Family Study. These biomarkers reveal the health of one's immune system, metabolism, and kidneys, and participants ranged in age from 30 to 110. Analyzing the health of the participants, including rates of diseases, researchers identified 26 biomarker signatures that are predictive of, say, better physical and cognitive functioning, higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, etc. Science 2.0 reports that as we refine our understanding of various biomarkers, blood tests may be able to tell us who is at risk of which diseases long before symptoms appear, and they may help test which trial drugs are effective far faster than we can today. (Optimism helps.)