How Old Are You, Really?
New tests want to tell you
Age is just a number—and one you may be able to change. At least that’s the pitch behind Tally Health, a new startup that’s among a crop of companies selling tests that offer to tell consumers their “biological age.”
You’ve heard of at-home tests like those from 23andMe and Ancestry, which scan your DNA to provide information about ethnic heritage and health risks. Now, a wave of startups is marketing tests that claim to parse your blood, urine, or a cheek swab to reveal your biological age. The tests measure epigenetic patterns, or changes in the body that affect how genes behave. Unlike a calendar age, which marches along at the same pace for everyone, biological age is the speed at which cells, tissues, and organs appear to decline—and that can vary, depending on a person’s health history.
Tally Health, which launched last week, is one of around a dozen companies that offer these tests. Harvard University biologist David Sinclair, the company’s cofounder, describes its version as something like a credit score for your body. You swab your cheek and drop your sample in the mail, and the company sends you back your biological age. “If you're younger, that's great. We want to keep you there and even make you stay younger as you get chronologically older,” Sinclair said. “If you come up with a number that's older than your cohort, then we’re here to help get you back to not just average, but even below average, biological age.”
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