SCIENTISTS at Boston University can now tell people whether or not they will have a long and healthy life.
After studying more than 1,000 people who lived to be more than 100, they have devised a genetic test that can say whether someone has a strong chance of “exceptional longevity”. This test has a 77 per cent success rate.
It may be no surprise to the layman that long life runs in families although the scientists say that environmental issues and lifestyle are also a factor.
Thomas Perls, a biostatistics professor, said, “We have noticed that centenarians are disability free at the average age of 93, so they very much compressed their disabilities toward the very end of their life.”
He hoped their work could help discover how to help more people live longer and healthier lives without disease marring old age.
The trouble is this genetic test could now be developed commercially. Within a few years, all sorts of companies could be using it.
“Sorry, pal. It says here you could live to be 103, so either double your pension plan contributions or prepare to work until you are 86.”
Perhaps the days are not too distant when employers will insist on a test to see how long their workforce will last.
“We are happy to offer you a position with the company along with pension which allows you to retire at 50 on two thirds salary for a nominal monthly payment.”
“That’s great. But why did you tell my mate he has to double his contributions?”
“Well he’s not going to die at 50 and a bit, is he?”
Yes, in an ever increasingly sophisticated world, science may eventually be able to give us the date of our demise. Not that everyone will want to know it.
It could be that instead of Gypsy Rose Lee booths on seaside promenades, in the future there will be Prediction Kiosks to tempt tipsy trippers.
There, for a small fee, a genetic test will be taken, a small card will drop from a slot, a specific date – a week on Wednesday – will be given and a laughing clown will roll about in its glass case, mocking our temerity in challenging God and nature.