Cancer-Detecting Breathalyzers on the Horizon

Most of us associate breathalyzers with field sobriety tests for drunk drivers, but these devices can also detect disease. Dr. Raed Dweik of the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute has spent the last two decades studying the molecular patterns in breath, and his findings may revolutionize health diagnostics.
Avatar:
Marissa
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
Most of us associate breathalyzers with field sobriety tests for drunk drivers, but these devices can also detect disease. Dr. Raed Dweik of the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute has spent the last two decades studying the molecular patterns in breath, and his findings may revolutionize health diagnostics.
Photo Credit: KOMUnews/Flickr

Your breath can tell you more than what you ate for lunch today. It can also tell you a lot about what's going on in your body and is directly linked to your blood system.

Raed Dweik, the head of the pulmonary vascular program at the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute, believes that devices, not unlike Breathalyzers, can easily and cheaply detect diseases within the body.

"A lot of people just think breath is what's in your lungs," Dweik told Mashable. "We realize now that anything in your body that is eventually in the blood can be measured in your breath."

These breath diagnostics can detect diseases such as lung cancer, liver disease, hearth disease, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease. Breath-test devices are much less invasive than traditional diagnostics, such as blood tests and biopsies, and much cheaper. They also don't come with other safety concerns like radiation from X-Ray machines.

"The advantage of breath testing is that it's noninvasive and nonintrusive," Dweik said. "It can be done anyplace, anywhere, anytime."

While these disease-detecting breath tests do currently exist, they are less than ideal. Some are still very large, forcing patients to visit their doctor to take the test. Others are about the size of a landline telephone, but need to plugged into an power source. What Dweik hopes for is a device small enough to be carried in a pocketbook. And Dweik's vision may soon be a reality.

Vantage Health is currently working on a device that can detect cancer by testing breath, using technology from NASA. The information from the test would be sent to the user's smartphone through an app. Users could conduct their own tests from the comfort of their own homes and get a better understanding of what their next steps should be.