Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What Your Breath Reveals About Your Health

News Brief by Kristiina Yang

Breath testing, while not quite ready to be used in doctors’ offices yet, presents a new and exciting frontier in preventative and diagnostic medicine. Researchers have found that each individual has a unique breath content consisting of volatile and nonvolatile materials, which can be analyzed for the presence and progression of various health problems. They hope to use individuals’ unique breath content to develop noninvasive medical tests for diagnostic and monitoring purposes, amongst other possibilities. Studies, for example, have already shown that breath analysis can be used to indicate whether one has lung cancer.

Researchers’ and scientists’ efforts to develop breath analysis technologies are rooted in the many benefits that this noninvasive form of medical testing may present. Breath analysis, researchers hope, will enhance the efficiency of the medical field by taking a small sample with no pain to the patient, which can be processed quicker than blood tests or biopsies for a wide variety of inflictions, and at a potentially lesser cost. What remains to be done is for scientists to identify and catalogue thousands of chemicals in the breath, and to understand how their presence and changes indicate disease. While trials and studies still need to be undertaken to standardize and validate the process, the field of breath testing is expected to see great development and progress in the coming years.


Beck, Melinda. "What Your Breath Reveals About Your Health." WSJ.com. The Wall Street Journal, 8 Oct. 2012. Web.
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