One Breath Into This Could Diagnose 17 Different Diseases

[DIGEST: Live Science, The Telegraph, Business Insider]

Don’t pick up that toothbrush yet. Your breath could be useful to detect whether you have lung cancer, Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis, or 14 other diseases, a study published last month in the journal ACS Nano found.

The study was performed on just over 1,400 people from several different countries, who were told to breathe into a breathalyzer. Roughly two-thirds had a diagnosed illness, while the other third acted as a control set in the study. The breathalyzer correctly identified each individual’s disease with 86 percent accuracy.  

Smelling a patient’s breath, blood or other excretions is not a new way of diagnosing disease. 2,500 years ago, Hippocrates told his students to smell their patients’ breath to diagnose diseases like diabetes. But the breathalyzer is a more scientific, and accurate, way of finding out what ails patients.

The breathalyzer looks at volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—microscopic compounds found in breath, blood and other bodily substances—to detect the conditions. More than 100 of these compounds are exhaled in each breath, 13 of which are associated with different diseases.

The scientists used artificial intelligence to measure the VOCs in each breath, determining whether they fell into a healthy range. The VOC outputs were then matched to a database of diseases showing the same VOC concentrations in various diagnoses. “Each disease has its own unique breathprint,” explained the researchers.

One of the most promising aspects of the breathalyzer is that it can detect diseases early, often before they are symptomatic. “One of the major challenges in the modern era of disease diagnosis is how we can detect the disease when we are still feeling healthy,” said Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who led the research team. He continued that the breathalyzer can catch the disease in the early stages, and may be able to predict people who are at high risk of developing certain conditions.

The breathalyzer is still in its testing phase. It needs further testing and better accuracy before it can be used for diagnosis in a medical setting. But, if it gets through the testing phase, the device could be an “affordable, easy-to-use, inexpensive and miniaturized [tool] for personalized screening, diagnosis and follow-up,” wrote the researchers.

The researchers are even contemplating integrating the technology into smartphones—meaning the next time you call home, you might find out you are in the early stages of illness. While somewhat creepy, that technology could save a lot of lives in diseases like cancer where early detection is crucial.

Said Nisreen Shehada of Technion, “If we add a step that is not painful, that is not invasive, something that people won’t be afraid of, I’m hoping that more people [will] be tested and that way we can diagnose cancer at much earlier stages.”

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Donald Trump took the opportunity to hype his pet project—bollard fencing along the southern border—to a meeting of the National Border Patrol Council.

The NBPC—a union organization not part of the federal agency—is "the exclusive representative of approximately 18,000 Border Patrol Agents and support personnel assigned to the U.S. Border Patrol."

Keep reading...
Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb // Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Veteran actor and Democrat Alec Baldwin's portrayal of President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live has garnered near-unanimous praise since the 2016 campaign (except, of course, from Trump himself).

But in a recent tweet, Baldwin reminded his followers that Trump's ascent and increasing corruption is no laughing matter.

Keep reading...
Fox Business

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer and one of the key players in the Ukraine scandal, Rudy Giuliani, is once again claiming to have proof of a Democratic scandal in Ukraine.

Once again, he's refusing to reveal it.

Keep reading...
Fox Business

Attorney General William Barr criticized President Donald Trump's tweets about Justice Department prosecutors' sentencing recommendation for Trump ally Roger Stone.

Barr—who overrode the recommendation after Trump railed against it on Twitter—said Trump's tweets made it impossible to do his job, though some people believe his words weren't to rein in Trump, but to mitigate public outrage.

Fox Host Lou Dobbs is not one of those people.

Keep reading...
Leah Millis-Pool/Getty Images // Chip Somodevilla/Getty Imageseditsharetrending_up

Americans across the country were furious when President Donald Trump fired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman after Trump was acquitted in his impeachment trial by the Republican Senate.

Vindman complied with a congressional subpoena to testify before the House committee overseeing Trump's impeachment inquiry last year.

The career military official and Purple Heart recipient was escorted out by security along with his twin brother, an NSC official who played no part in the impeachment proceedings.

Keep reading...
ABC News

People cried foul earlier this week when the Justice Department overrode four career prosecutors to recommend a reduced sentence for former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone.

The Department's decision came only a day after Trump railed against the prosecutors' recommendation on Twitter, leading many to believe the Department reduced the sentence recommendation because the President interceded on his ally's behalf.

All four prosecutors on the case resigned in response to the change.

Keep reading...