Risky Business: The UbbLE Risk Calculator Warnings

No one is supposed to know when they are going to die, but the UbbLE Risk Calculator might change that.

Designed as a method of determining whether or not users will die within five years, UbbLE seeks to determine how high your risk of dying is compared to others of your age group. The tool is designed for those who are between the ages of 40 and 70, and its creators assert that it is up to 80 percent accurate.

The calculator was born from the UK Biobank study, which included some 500,000 participants from 21 different assessment centres throughout England, Wales, and Scotland.

Dr. Erik Ingelsson, who had a role in the study, said, “For most people, a high risk of dying in the next five years can be reduced by increased physical activity, smoking cessation and a healthy diet.”

That may be easier said than done for some. According to a January 2015 report from ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), there are 10 million smokers in Great Britain. Of those, two-thirds started prior to the age of 18. Over 100,000 smokers per year eventually die from the addiction, which means that there are many individuals in the UK alone who identify as smokers and who are regularly putting their health at risk. That is only one component of the risk factors that the UbbLE Risk Calculator takes into consideration.

The calculator also considers such factors as diet and exercise as well. Overall, there were 11 potential lifestyle-based questions for men and possibly up to 13 for women. The calculator also looks at personal stresses that you may have endured, including the loss of a close family member, marital separation and divorce, or whether or not serious injury and assault have been a factor in your life over the last two years. The calculator then takes the information the user inputs and determines what the user’s risk of dying within the next five years might be.

Generally speaking, researchers hoped that the creation of the tool would get people talking and thinking about their own health and the risks they undertake daily as they go about their daily lives. If the age is lower when all the factors are calculated, then the user has a greater chance of having better health during the next five years, while the reverse is true if the calculated age is higher.

The calculator has definitely gotten people talking about the issues of health, though some of the comments are somewhat tongue in cheek.

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Regardless of whether you are worried or simply morbidly curious, one thing is clear — UbbLE will at least get you thinking about your health and what you can do to make it better. The other benefit to the calculator is that users get to be honest about their own assessments of their health statuses, a somewhat dodgy prospect in an era where symptoms are looked up via Google and you can be diagnosed with a variety of ailments over the phone.

[Photo by Steve Eason/Hutton Archive/Getty Images]