National

Data-crunching AI in Japan predicts one's chances of developing 20 diseases

Kyodo

Health researchers have put artificial intelligence to work in crunching big data, allowing them to develop technology that can predict the future onset of around 20 diseases so people can make preventative lifestyle changes.

The model developed at Hirosaki University and Kyoto University calculates one's probability of developing a disease within three years based on data obtained from voluntary health checkups on about 20,000 people in Japan.

If a patient agrees to disclose data on some 20 categories collected during checkups, the model can project the potential development of arteriosclerosis, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease and obesity, among other conditions.

The team set up two groups of people for each disease — those whose data suggested they could develop the ailment in the future and a control group — and crunched their health data to predict whether would will actually develop the disease.

"We made correct predictions on whether individuals will develop the diseases within three years with high accuracy," said Yasushi Okuno, professor at Kyoto University's Graduate School of Medicine.

A research team led by professors Shigeyuki Nakaji and Koichi Murashita of Hirosaki University has been conducting voluntary health checkups each year on residents of Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, since 2005.

The team looked into some 2,000 categories of health data in addition to general checkup information, assessing residents' physical fitness, conducting genetic tests and asking about dietary habits, lifestyle and social activities as well.

Okuno's research team used AI in their analysis and discovered a connection between the development of certain diseases and individuals' health conditions, genetics and lifestyles.

For example, the research team was able to predict the probability of someone developing diabetes based on their blood sugar levels, leg muscle mass and body fat levels.

The model can be used to give personalized recommendations on how people can reduce the likelihood of developing various diseases based on their genetics and their dietary, smoking and alcohol consumption habits.

"If we are able to present risks of developing certain diseases for each individual, it will be possible to avoid them by altering one's lifestyle," Okuno said.

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