The pee of life

Urine these days is not granted a great deal of kudos, but it has not always been this way. A couple of thousand years ago the Romans were using urine to tan hides and whiten teeth (apparently Spanish urine was especially valued in this regard…ole!). The Aztecs used it as a wound treatment and over the centuries sailors becalmed at sea have regarded their urine as a light aperitif. During World War I soldiers would urinate on the filters they used in their gas masks to help filter out poisonous gases. Yes, urine has had a golden reputation for much of human history, whereas today we use it as a synonym for being annoyed. This may be about to change however, as a new study suggests that a simple urine test might tell you how long you will live.

The study involved analysing data on 810,000 people aged between 30 and 85 years of age. The results basically showed that the higher the levels of protein in the urine (proteinuria), the shorter the life span.

For example, the life expectancies of 40-year-old men and women with no proteinuria were 15.2 and 17.4 years longer, respectively, than those with heavy proteinuria. For all ages, proteinuria-free men and women outlived those with mild proteinuria by 8.2 years and 10.5 years, respectively.

Protein in the urine is a sign that the kidneys are not functioning as they should. Conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and kidney disease itself can lead to proteinuria. So a urine test to evaluate protein levels can effectively become a barometer for a person’s wellbeing and life expectancy.

However, if the idea of your urine being able to predict your future seems just a little too much, relax; it’s just another form of reading the pee leaves.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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