Spit can reveal disease

July 29, 2013 - 05:00

Swedish scientists say in the near future a simple saliva test will suffice to reveal serious diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.

And spit on a cotton swab. (Photo: Colourbox)

Professor Björn Klinge and colleagues at Malmö University College have issued a press release with this prediction of future diagnostics.

Substances in saliva are known to show the presence of mouth and throat diseases. In 2011 a study showed that a sample of spit can also reveal your age.

Now Klinge and fellow researchers have used the saliva of 500 persons in Sweden’s Skåne County in an attempt at detecting traces of other diseases.

They came up with some promising results.

Revealed disease

Substances in the saliva samples revealed whether the patients had any inflammatory diseases – disorders creating infections.

For now the technique is not precise enough to indicate which organs are stricken.

However, the Swedish scientists think future research will help narrow this down. A new study has already started which aims at detecting whether patients are developing cardiovascular diseases.

Saving time and money

If the researchers find what they are looking for, Klinge thinks saliva samples will become a routine part of health check-ups.

“Instead of going to the health services the patient can simply moisten a cotton swab with spit and send it in for analysis. If the sample indicates an illness, the patient can be given an appointment with the doctor,” says Klinge.

The professor points out that this can save both time and money and possibly help reach out to a wider public.

Perhaps he’s overly optimistic, but he thinks the saliva tests will be in use within five to ten years.

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Read the Norwegian version of this article at forskning.no

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Translated by
Glenn Ostling

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