When will you die? U of T prof may have the answer

by | Nov 20, 2012 | News

The time you wake up may determine the time of day you will die, according to a study conducted by a team of researchers led by U of T professor Dr. Andrew Lim. COURTESY FLICKR

By: William Kee

Your fate could be decided through what time you kick off the sheets.

A University of Toronto neurology professor and his team of researchers may have discovered a gene mutation which can predict when a person is most likely to die during the day. They say it’s determined by when a person is most likely to wake up.

The findings are published in the November edition of Annals of Neurology, which looked at seniors’ sleep-wake cycles.

The team, led by U of T professor Dr. Andrew Lim, found that early morning risers (before 7 a.m.) are more likely to die around 11 a.m., and late-day risers are more likely to die around supper time (6 p.m.)

The study found those who woke up early have an adenosine nucleotide base, which researchers have given the short form name of  A-A, and late risers are more likely to have a guanine nucleotide base, or G-G. Those in the middle have a mix of both adenine and guanine bases (A-G).

The study has been going on for 15 years, when researchers studied a group of 1,200 people aged 65. Many of the subjects have since died.

Individuals who volunteered for the study donated a part of their DNA, as well as their brains.

Clifford Saper, a Harvard University professor and co-author of the study, told Humber News that examination on posthumous subjects provides information on their time of death. All it subsequently took was a cross-correlation with a person’s specific genotype to identify a link to times of death.

“It just utterly shocked us that it predicted six hours of variability in the time of death,” said Saper.

“People with an A-A genotype died on average around 11 a.m. and people with a G-G died around 5 or 6 p.m.”

This also applies to certain diseases, said Saper, who also explained a discovery of what researchers call a “circadian rhythm of death.”

“People die more frequently of heart attacks or strokes in the early morning hours. This is the time of day in preparation for waking up and being active in the morning, your blood pressure starts to rise,” said Saper.

The Toronto Star reported the lab test is simple and requires only a small amount of DNA, be it blood or saliva.