The next time you wake up with morning breath, you can take pride that although it smells bad no one else's is quite like yours. According to a recent study, you've got a "breathprint" that is not only unique to you, but could also predict diseases.
In an 11-day study, researchers at ETH Zurich and at the University Hospital Zurich monitored the exhalation of 11 different volunteers at different points throughout the day with mass spectrometers. What they found was that if you strip away some of the minor fluctuations, the makeup of any one person's breath stays pretty constant, unpleasant or otherwise.
Naturally a breathprint isn't going to be as helpful for identification as a fingerprint or retinal scan might be, but it can serve as a personal baseline to monitoring health. While we've always known breath can carry important health info, being able to establish your own personal print is key. If doctors have a profile of your breath on file, it would be possible to detect the faintest touches of infectious and metabolic diseases, or even pick up on things like cancer and organ failure, like a well-trained, robotic, cancer-sniffin' dog.
The next step beyond proof of concept is to get more cheap, mobile mass spectrometers in the feild and start building up a big, moist, smelly catalogue of breath data so we can start seeing what different kind of sick breath looks smells like. But until then, it's probably fair to assume it all smells pretty bad. [Science Daily via Popular Science]