Novel takes on blood samples and body shapes were showcased as predictors of death in separate studies. 

Four novel biological markers in the blood appear to strongly indicate a person’s risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, cancer or other illnesses within the subsequent five years, according to a study in PLOS Medicine by Fischer et al.

The group tested 9,842 blood samples from a representative subset of people in Estonia using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Health records showed that after providing the blood sample, 508 of the people had died during the median follow-up period of 5.4 years, mostly due to heart disease, cancer and other, nonvascular diseases. 

Statistical analysis revealed that the levels of plasma albumin, alpha-1-acid glycoprotein, very-low-density lipoprotein particle size, and citrate appeared to accurately predict short-term risk of death. Similar results were found after repeating the study in a population-based validation cohort of 7,503 persons in Finland, 176 of whom died during the 5.4-year median follow-up.

The association between the four biomarkers and short-term risk of death remained unchanged after controlling for risk factors such as age, weight, tobacco and alcohol use, and such preexisting illnesses as diabetes and cancer.

Incorporating the biomarkers into risk-prediction scores led to improved discrimination and reclassification of five-year mortality in the validation cohort.

In a separate study, Krakauer et al found that A Body Shape Index (ABSI) is a more effective predictor of mortality than is the commonly used BMI. The ABSI score is based on waist circumference adjusted for height and weight. 

The investigators evaluated ABSI scores in 7,011 persons aged 18 years and older who participated in Great Britain’s Health and Lifestyle Survey (HALS), representing 24 years of follow-up.

As a predictor of mortality hazard, ABSI outperformed such other measures of abdominal obesity as waist circumference, waist-to-height ratio, and waist-to-hip ratio. ABSI also was a consistent predictor of mortality hazard over at least 20 years of follow-up.


  1. Fischer
 K et al. PLOS Medicine. 2014; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001606
  2. Krakauer N et al. PLOS One. 2014; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088793.