You might ask, "How can a disease sniffer work? You can't smell disease in a person, can you?" But of course you can. The answer is actually quite simple -- you can smell disease in people, around people and on people. You can smell it from the gases emanating from their skin and from the gases they exhale from their lungs as well. Their respiration gives you a good clue about their level of overall health.
How do I know that we can smell disease in people? For starters, dogs have now been trained to smell bladder cancer simply by sniffing the urine of potential cancer patients. So, if you urinate into a container and let the dog sniff it, that dog can tell you whether or not you have bladder cancer.
The concept is well-proven, well-documented and not at all outside the realm of ordinary science. Dogs, through sniffing, can detect cocaine, explosives or microscopic amounts of almost any other chemical, including chemicals emitted by other animals or human beings. Dogs are born with a high-tech chemical sensor array. In fact, they are extremely proficient at tracking down prey in the wild. Dogs see more with their noses than humans see with their eyes. A dog doesn't even need to open its eyes to track prey. It can just chase it down by smell alone.
How does this work? First of all, the skin actually does emit gas. A human being's skin breathes. The skin is the largest organ on your body, and it must breathe in order for you to live. In doing so, it emits gases that are circulating in the blood supply.
Let's say, for example, you have too much carbon dioxide in your blood, or too much nitrogen, or even too much oxygen. Any of these gases, and of course many others, are going to be primarily exhaled through your lungs, but they're also going to be partially exhaled out of your skin as this blood is circulated to your skin cells and the skin begins to exchange chemistry with the surrounding air.
A lot of people don't know that the skin can also drink water. If you spend a lot of time in a swimming pool, for example, you will absorb water through your skin that will increase the water content of your blood. The kidneys will kick in, extracting that water from your blood, and before long you will need to urinate. This is why if you swim for a long time, you end up needing to use the restroom. It's because your skin is drinking water; it's absorbing water right out of the pool, even if you aren't drinking it.
In summary, the skin can absorb chemicals and water, it can also exhale chemicals, and it is this exhalation of chemistry that allows this invention to work.
Just in case you're wondering, "Hey, how come I've never smelled cancer?" The answer might be because if you're like most consumers in the western world, you don't have much olfactory sensitivity left because you assault your senses with laundry detergents, shampoos, soap and all kinds of other products loaded with artificial chemical fragrance.
If you wear perfume, deodorant or cologne, or if you use any scented products whatsoever, you do not have the sense of smell of someone who lives a natural lifestyle with fragrance-free products. That makes smelling cancer difficult, because it's a subtle smell.
When these tumors become sufficiently large, the blood supply to the tumor may not be able to support all of the tumor tissue, so some tissue begins to die. And it is this dying off of tumor tissue -- a sort of internal rotting of flesh -- that creates this off-gassing of detectable cancer smells.
As you can tell from this explanation, cancer is unfortunately only really easy to smell when it has advanced to aggressive, late-stage status. We can't smell very early stages of cancer. If there are only 10,000 cancer cells in a small tumor somewhere, they may not be detectable through this method. But we can easily detect very large masses of cancer cells, and especially tumors that are partially dying and emitting these noxious fumes.
What the invention does, quite simply, is sniff the air around a person and subject it to chemical analysis to determine what chemicals are emanating from this individual. It then compares that chemical profile with a known list of diseases to determine what diseases the person is most likely to be suffering from, and from there, that patient would be asked to participate in more precise testing in order to confirm the diagnosis. This disease-sniffer technology would only be used as a simple, low-cost, non-invasive, first line of defense detection device. The cost to use it would be only a few cents per person.
It's non-invasive, it's completely painless and it only takes a few seconds, so it would be an ideal item to use for mass disease detection on large populations. You could take it into a public school or a nursing home, for example.
A very similar device is being used right now for airport security, by the way. There is a bomb-sniffing scanner that looks like a high-tech door frame. You step into and it blasts your body with a puff of air, and then that air is drawn through a chemical sensor that looks for molecules related to explosives or various dangerous chemicals that terrorists and other dangerous people might be carrying. I've been in one of these devices myself -- it takes about five seconds to complete the scan. It's completely non-invasive, it's very low-cost to operate, and the false positive rate is low while the accuracy detection rate is quite high. Whether the technology can easily translate into sniffing for disease is something yet to be seen.
Well the answer is because, for some bizarre reason, conventional medicine doesn't believe that you can "smell cancer" on a person, even though dogs have been trained to do exactly that. Besides, mammography is wildly profitable, and the makers of mammography equipment give huge donations to non-profit cancer institutions, where they exert tremendous influence. And they, of course, don't want to see any new technology come along that makes their existing equipment less valuable. That is, unless they invent the new technology themselves.
For doctors, there's tremendous resistance to the idea of being able to detect disease by sniffing a patient. This idea just seems too non-technical to be believed. There's a tendency in medicine to discredit anything that's too simple and instead go for things that are overly complicated and that only people who have a four-year medical degree can possibly understand or even discuss.
You can see red blood cells moving around; you can assess their shape, their viscosity, whether or not they stick together and so on. There are all kinds of things that you can diagnose from looking at blood, yet conventional medicine never does this. They don't want to look at your blood, because for some reason the test is just too simple. It's too obvious. They want to run all these highly-complex chemical tests -- lab tests that cost four or five hundred dollars each -- rather than bothering to physically look at your blood under a microscope.
So, you'll find that there are many useful technologies and techniques that modern medicine just throws out the window because it declares them to be non-scientific when in fact they represent rather solid science.
You see, modern medicine likes to make things really technical and overly complicated, and it hates to give credibility to anything that's really simple, because then people could have access to their own medical cures. If people realized that being healthy was so simple, doctors couldn't maintain control, and the American Medical Association wouldn't exercise nearly as much authority. If being healthy were discovered to be relatively easy, they would lose power over people, and that's why I think modern medicine does not like to endorse anything that is relatively simple, even when it works.
To get an idea of this, imagine a hand-held disease-sniffing device already existed, and it could be purchased for a couple hundred dollars. Individuals could buy their own devices and scan themselves or their family members to see if they might have cancer or other diseases. This would be a great idea for public health, but the idea horrifies the promoters of conventional medicine. They can't stand the idea of people self-diagnosing disease. It just shocks them. They want people to get diagnosed at their clinics so that the resident oncologist can scare them into undergoing cancer therapies that generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits -- therapies that typically include chemotherapy, radiation and surgical removal of tumors, by the way.
So, that's why I think you're unlikely to see this technology in the near future. But it's a solid concept that could be built right now. I hope that someone will have the courage to develop it and show the world that detecting certain diseases is actually quite simple and doesn't require thousands of dollars in laboratory analysis. Sometimes all you have to do is get close to a person, take a whiff and you know they've got cancer. From there, you can easily confirm it with other tests.