If you’re like me, you realize that your window of time on this planet is increasingly limited. So would you like to know how long you have? There’s a new blood test that can predict how long you’ll be alive. According to The Independent, the test measures telomeres, which are the tips of chromosomes, to determine if a person’s body is actually older or younger than the actual chronological age. Scientists believe that this testing can help provide insight into a person’s risk of dying prematurely from age-related diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
I was curious whether women would be interested in this test, so I asked some women who are age 40 and above what their thoughts were. I also asked them what their 20-year-old self would have done if given this opportunity. It was an interesting Facebook conversation, so I thought I’d share it with you.
Some friends just flat out weren’t interested in learning about their longevity. Laura T. said, “Why would I want to decide or think I only have so many years left when I might die or be killed tomorrow? I have many other things to think about and to occupy my time than to think about that.” Brenda added, “I think my 20 year-old self would have said ‘Really, why bother?’ And now that I am 54, I realize that if I continue to exercise, manage my diet and nutrition supplement, and take care of myself mentally, spiritually and physically, God will do the rest. And no one knows the day or the hour but Him. So I wait on Him to determine when it's time. “
Inez echoed these sentiments. “I think we should enjoy the moment we have and let the future take care of itself,” she said. “You could take the blood test and walk outside and be hit by a bus. I think my 20-year-old self wouldn't have cared about a blood test like this. She was going to live forever. She was invincible!” Michelle agreed, “No test for me either. I'm still in the mode that I am going to live forever....but if I don't change my ways, it is going to be a bumpy road. I am one that believes when your number is up, it is up. It would be my luck that I spend the money on the test, walk outside and get hit by one of these crazy Dallas drivers!”
Elaine was more worried about quality of life rather than length of life. “My big questions, ones that a test couldn't answer, is what will my quality of life be and will there be a support system in place to care for me if I can't care for myself,” she said, “No, I'd rather spend the $700 on something I can enjoy now (or save it for property taxes) and keep trying to learn to enjoy the moment, which includes learning to love exercise.”
But some friends’ interest was piqued by the story. Kaye said, “While I agree that my 20-year-old self would have had no interest in this test, my current middle-aged self has another opinion entirely. What I know now is that genetics and lifestyle choices of most of my relatives have caused all of them to die before the age of 60. If I took this test and it indicated that I, too, would have a shorter lifespan, that would increase my motivation to make any lifestyle changes while I could regarding things I can control. This includes diet, exercise, nutrition supplements, quality of air, etc.”
Taking a similar approach, Judy said, “I'd be curious about the test and what it would say, much as I'm curious about the breast cancer gene test and what it would tell me. I think I would take a ‘you have five more years’ result much the same way as I would take that sort of diagnosis for a cancer diagnosis or a magazine "predict your longevity" test; it would simply be a wakeup call to decide how badly I wanted a different outcome than that.” Tina added, “I kinda want to know what the test says... but not because I will believe it to be necessarily accurate (a zillion factors could alter the outcome, obviously)... but because it might motivate me to make changes to extend my life.”
And some were not sure what their decision would be. Laura N. said, “Now that I'm approaching 50. I'm with those who say enjoy the moment as we can't truly know the day and the hour. That said, if the test could say I would live to age XX (or beyond) if I do (or don't) do thus-and-so, and could be that specific with actionable suggestions, I might consider it. Maybe. Possibly. I'm really conflicted on this one. I guess if I think I'd change my habits and behavior to improve my health based on the test's prediction, why don’t I just do the things that doctors already say-- exercise, drink water, eat healthy, etc.-- and hope that those things will help me live a long, healthy life.”
As for me, I don’t think I’d want to take this test. I’d rather keep my focus on day-to-day life and not worry about the test findings, especially since there’s a possibility that they would indicate Alzheimer’s (which tends to run in my family). If I found out that, indeed, I am genetically set up for dementia, I’d start worrying about whether every little memory lapse was the onset of this cruel and terrible disease. And that would totally sap my enjoyment of life.
So what would you do??
Published On: May 25, 2011