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Scientists Identify a 'Stress-Free' and Cheaper Way to Detect Disease Using One's Breath

"It's really the future of medical testing in general."

The idea of "smelling" the presence of cancer on a person's breath is not new to science, but more recent research suggests that the temperature of that breath could be an indicator as well.

The study presented at the European Respiratory Society's International Congress in Munich Monday proposed that testing the temperature of a person's breath could be an noninvasive way to detect lung cancer.

Researchers found that patients with lung cancer had a higher breath temperature, which suggests temperature could be used to help diagnose lung cancer in a noninvasive way. (Photo credit: Shutterstock) Researchers found that patients with lung cancer had a higher breath temperature, which suggests temperature could be used to help diagnose lung cancer in a noninvasive way. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

The research evaluated more than 80 people who were undergoing full testing for lung cancer after an X-ray revealed the potential concern. Using an X-Halo device, the researchers found that those with lung cancer — about half of the patients involved received a positive diagnosis — had a higher temperature than those who did not. What's more, the study found that breath temperature was also higher in patients depending on the stage of their lung cancer and how many years they smoked.

"Our results suggest that lung cancer causes an increase in the exhaled temperature. This is a significant finding and could change the way we currently diagnose the disease," Giovanna Elisiana Carpagnano, lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Foggia, said in a statement. "If we are able to refine a test to diagnose lung cancer by measuring breath temperature, we will improve the diagnostic process by providing patients with a stress-free and simple test that is also cheaper and less intensive for clinicians."

In addition to cancer, using breath tests to detect a whole host of other diseases — liver disease, diabetes, heart failure, asthma and more — is becoming more popular as well, according to KABC-TV.

"It's really the future of medical testing in general," Dr. Raed Dweik with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio told the news station. "We are just scratching the surface on the utility of breath testing in medical diagnosis."

Front page image via Shutterstock.

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