October 11, 2012

Health Roundup: Your breath 'fingerprint', tomatoes, UV Ugly, 21 cholesterol genes

Each Patient Has a Unique Breath 'Fingerprint' That Doctors Could Use to Diagnose.  What Your Breath Reveals

The concept goes back to Hippocrates, who wrote a treatise on breath aroma and disease around 400 B.C. For centuries afterward, doctors noticed that patients with liver and kidney disorders had distinctive smells to their breath.

Now, scientists are identifying thousands of chemical compounds that create those telltale odors. Tools called mass spectrometers can detect them in quantities as minute as parts per trillion, the equivalent of finding a single ping-pong ball in a thousand baseball fields filled with ping-pong balls.

And researchers are developing tests that can diagnose and monitor not just liver and kidney disorders, but also asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, gastrointestinal infections—even the rejection of transplanted organs—by analyzing biomarkers in exhaled breath.
Breath tests are also painless, faster to return results and potentially less expensive than blood tests—and easy to repeat as often as needed, even while patients are sleeping or exercising.

And some go well beyond what blood tests can do. In a study in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology this month, researchers from Israel and Colorado reported that breath analysis could distinguish between benign and malignant pulmonary nodules in a group of 72 patients with 88% accuracy; the test could also assess the specific type and stage of the lung cancers.

Tomato Helps Cut the Risk of a Stroke, Study Shows

A new study shows that men who had the highest levels of lycopene—an antioxidant found in tomatoes—had fewer strokes than men who had the lowest level of lycopene in their blood. Overall, the risk of strokes was reduced by 55%…. Lycopene is found in the highest concentrations in cooked tomato products like paste, puree and sauce.

R UV Ugly? Cancer charity puts ultraviolet skin scanner in shopping centers to warn of the damage caused by sun beds


Scientists a step closer to preventing heart attacks as they identify high cholesterol genes, paving the way for targeted drugs

Scientists have identified 21 new genes linked to cholesterol levels, further paving the way for dedicated drugs and treatments for heart disease.  In the largest-ever genetic study of cholesterol, they found these genetic variations were associated with changes in ‘good’ HDL and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.  One of the most striking findings was that some variants were more likely to appear in men, others in women.  The genetic mutations of more than 90,000 people were analyzed in the study, which was published in The American Journal of Human Genetics.
Posted by Jill Fallon at October 11, 2012 7:26 PM | Permalink