Published: 04-06-2015 13:55 | Updated: 04-06-2015 13:55

Extensive study of five-year mortality risk

Researchers from Uppsala University and Karolinska Institutet have studied the risk of dying over the next five years. They have developed a unique health-risk calculator by using one of the world’s largest study material, UK Biobank, containing data from nearly half a million people. The results are expected to have large areas of application both in the clinical setting, public health policy and in research.

"We show that, using a few simple questions, one can predict the risk of dying within five years with greater reliability than in any other way we know today”, says Erik Ingelsson, a professor at Uppsala University who headed the study that has now been published in The Lancet. “We think our study and the associated risk calculator will become an important tool for a wide range of researchers, but also for doctors, decision-makers and the public.”

UK Biobank contains data on as many as 655 variables collected from around half a million British people aged 40–70. Studies of the associations between one or a few risk factors and future mortality risk have been carried out previously in smaller studies, but none has been based on such extensive data material.

By using a computer algorithm, Professor Ingelsson and his colleague Andrea Ganna at Karolinska Institutet were also able to pick out the combination of questionnaire items with the highest accuracy. The outcome was 13 questions for men and 11 for women, and on the basis of the replies to these questions a person’s ‘Ubble age’ can be calculated. If this is lower than the actual age, it means that the person’s risk of dying is lower than the average for people of the same sex and age, and vice versa. The researchers have also been working with web technicians and designers to develop a simple, user-friendly web tool for visualizing all results, and enabling five-year mortality risk and Ubble age to be calculated.

This research was funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Swedish Research Council.


5 year mortality predictors in 498 103 UK Biobank participants: a prospective population-based study
Andrea Ganna, Erik Ingelsson
The Lancet, published online 03 June 2015, DOI: