What our breath hides Whether it smells good or bad, our breath says a lot about our lifestyle as well as the state of our health. In the past, long before the arrival of current technologies, doctors were able to use our breath and body odour to diagnose potential diseases. This interesting practice has recently made a comeback, because several chemical compounds found in our breath can actually be indicators of certain serious illnesses such as diabetes, lung cancer and even Parkinson’s disease… allowing researchers to diagnose these conditions without needing to submit patients to expensive and stressful examinations. Making sure not to mix everything up Although you can obviously explain bad breath from eating certain foods, alcohol abuse and even other things such as eating large meals late at night, researchers have found themselves confronted with another problem. The results of their analysis can be very easily distorted by the patient’s metabolism which can change depending on several things such as a sudden change in weight or sexual activity. Designing a ‘serious diseases breathalyser’ Researchers first developed different instruments that are capable of measuring the levels of certain compounds in the breath, such as glucose or acetone for example. But researchers quickly ran into different problems with how expensive these instruments and techniques were. After several attempts, scientists managed to create a more effective device. Made from a light ring producing ultraviolet rays, filters and a video camera, the device manages to capture the molecules with great precision and release an image of the analysis. These are conclusive results that could lead to more tests with this ‘olfactory video camera’ and are an indicator of how highly versatile this device is, which could be later combined with other devices to expand its potential.