A new study shows that rather than test the length of the ends of your DNA strands to predict longevity, it is far simpler to relate your age to your ability to climb stairs or walk a short distance.
The study team analyzed death rates over five years among older people in the US, Costa Rica and Taiwan with the aim being to find out how a broad set of basic measures, such as age, mobility and smoking habits, compared with gauging the length of telomeres (ends of DNA that shrink with age) in predicting death.
Scientists have long debated whether length of telomeres is indeed a predictable molecular clock that determines when people die. According to the new research, using telomere length to gauge longevity was similar to a ‘coin toss’. The researchers said that actual age was, by far, the single best predictor of death. They added that most indicators, including self-reported measures of health and mobility, an assessment of mental function, smoking, exercise, an inflammatory marker and a measure of kidney function, all outperformed telomere length in predicting death.