Scientists from the University of Birmingham have developed a saliva test that could predict how long a person has left to live.
The conclusion comes from a lengthy study that accrued samples from 639 adults in 1995, and tracked them over 19 years. Researchers discovered an antibody – secretory immunoglobin A (IgA) – who’s levels fell as the subjects neared death.
The researchers said the chemical appears to be a marker of mortality risk, noting this method is much less invasive than blood sampling. Testing IgA could be a barometer for overall health when people go for their routine check-ups or physicals.
“There are a number of factors that can affect how well we produce antibodies and maintain their levels,” said Dr. Anna Phillips, from the University of Birmingham.
“There are some that we have no control over, such as age, heritability or illness, but our general state of health can also affect their levels; stress, diet, exercise, alcohol and smoking can all influence those levels.
“We could certainly say that, if [IgA levels are] found to be extremely low, it would be a useful early indicator of risk.”
Saliva is increasingly being used as a predictive tool by scientists. Tests that claim to be able to predict whether someone is gay or not, is likely to develop Alzheimer’s, and chances of developing various cancers have all been experimented with in recent years.