The next time someone tells you to blow into a tube for ten seconds you may be surprised to learn they won’t be wearing a cop uniform. Your doctor will be in his usual all-whites at your annual checkup. That’s because a group of scientists at the NIST and the University of Colorado have developed a new breath analysis technique.
Your doctor will give you a sample to blow into. Shortly after lasers will pulse through the air sample, identifying normal breath molecules as well as trace elements that could lead to indications of disease. Markers for diseases such as asthma and cancer are apparent in some patients. For example, trace amounts of certain gazes, such as ammonia may indicate retinal failure, or diabetes.
Some potentials of the technology is that it’s inexpensive while maintaining both a non-invasive and fast method to conduct a health screen. It has a lot of work ahead of it, as it needs to prove its worth to the medical community as a valid and testable form of pre-screening for disease.
Yet what will doctors be able to do with the information once they have it? If this simple method shows up forms of cancer in patients, it’s difficult to proscribe, on the spot, what that individual should begin to do. Similar arguments that form after a genome testing by a company like 23andMe. Considering that the ailment may never be present in you, does the information become a self-fulfilling prophesy?