Ever heard of the Death Clock? It's a web-based tool that prides itself on predicting your precise and exact date of death. Well, many people may have a problem with that, yet others would have no qualms about such a prediction.
If you are the curious type, head to your web browser and try the tool. You'll find millions of others who have done the same thing. But be sure to scroll further down to the disclaimers.
Predicting mortality, or death in plain language is nothing new. The WHO, World Bank, Governments and all sorts of organizations track what is commonly known as life expectancy for different populations, countries and specific regions.
Part of it is to do with tracking population dynamics, health, quality of life, world economy, and many more metrics that can guide projections and policy decisions.
But is it of any use for an individual to predict their lifespan? And can such a prediction ever be accurate to the exact date? All available mortality prediction tools, including the said Death Clock, use some health parameters as part of the equation.
Other parameters are where you live, your age, lifestyle habits and your weight. As you can already guess, there is a multitude of other factors that ideally must also be part of the predictive equation.
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In fact, the list of factors that would qualify is infinite. That already tells you any predicted date of death, for any individual, is at best guesswork. But it cannot actually be ignored completely.
That lifespan is mostly dependent on health is a given. That health is a modifiable parameter is also a given. And thereby lies the value of predicting lifespans, and the actual death dates. The tools that you can use to modify your health are mainly at your disposal.
Being aware of your prevailing health is the starting point. Deliberately changing your lifestyle to healthier habits is the next step. Being proactive with unusual symptoms, and seeking medical interventions timely is an additional tool.
So go ahead and satisfy your curiosity if you wish, and see what mortality predictions might say. Look up freely available data from reputable health agencies, WHO is a good portal.
Try the Death Clock too if only for fun as well. Relate the data to your specific circumstances, and see if there's anything you could do differently to modify your longevity.
Granted, everyone has their own views about longevity. Some will define it with quality in mind, rather than quantity.
Whatever your definition, overall health status remains as the main predictor of mortality. You must therefore strictly guard your health, or use it to predict the timing of your eventual death.
Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist.