(Los Angeles Times) Here are some findings that could scare you to death: In a study published this week, Finnish and Estonian researchers report that they have identified specific levels of four chemicals circulating in the blood that offer a reliable signal that death is near. The four harbingers of death can be readily detected in a blood sample, and are even predictive when seen in apparently healthy people, their new study shows.

It’s not just a life insurance saleman’s dream. The study, released this week in the journal PLOS Medicine, suggests that several potentially deadly conditions — cancer, cardiovascular disease and a welter of non-vascular causes of death — may share signs, and even origins, that have been hidden in plain sight. If readily detectable physiological clues–called “biomarkers”–could give warning of many dangerous conditions at once, a single blood test might provide a person early warning of a deadly threat, while it could still be averted (or at least delayed).

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