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    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Ask the Magic 8 Ball: When will you die?

    What are your chances of dying within four years?

    Researchers have come up with 12 risk factors to try to answer that for people over age 50.

    This is one game in which you want a low score. Zero to 5 points says your risk of dying in four years is less than 4 percent. With 14 points, your risk rises to 64 percent.

    Just being male gives you 2 points. So does having diabetes, being a smoker, and getting pooped trying to walk several blocks.

    Points accrue with each four-year increment after age 60.

    The test doesn't ask what you eat, but it does ask if you can push a living room chair across the floor.

    You also get penalized for being too skinny- not too fat, because being underweight is more of an indicator of poor health than being overweight. (Something you would never guess from the propaganda that comes from the CDC and the media.) The abstract on which it was based is here.

    Although no one knows when we'll die, the risk factors included in this prognosticator are much more valid than say, cholesterol levels or weight. They included things that truly matter - that is that are big risk factors not minor risk factors, things like age, functional ability, smoking, lung disease, dementia, heart disease and diabetes. It may prove to be a fairly useful tool to answer that so hard to answer question at the end of a yearly check-up - "So, doc, how am I doing?"

    posted by Sydney on 2/15/2006 08:30:00 AM 2 comments


    My wife and I took this test together. I scored 3 points because I'm male and my BMI is less than 25. My wife scored 2. What a relief! I'm so glad my wife's stage 2 rectal cancer with subsequent metatases to the liver is a better condition than being a skinny male. This is science?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:05 AM  


    The test isn't meant for people with terminal illnesses. It's meant for people who have the normal diseases of aging - the kind of diseases we have so much trouble attaching a prognosis.

    I once had a 90 year old man ask me if he should get married. He didn't want to drop dead on his new bride before their first anniversary. This can help answer those kinds of questions - or at least give people a "sort of" idea. It's certainly not perfect. And you could very well tell a 90 year old that every day is a gift at that age, but some people prefer numbers to philosophy.

    By Blogger sydney, at 1:23 PM  

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