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Could your individual 'breathprint' help detect illnesses?

Breath has long been used as an indicator of alcohol consumption, but some scientists also believe it could be used to diagnose a wide range of illnesses in the future.

A team of Swiss researchers conducted tests on 11 volunteers over nine working days to see whether their breath contained an "individual signature" like a fingerprint, and found that it did.

Could your 'breathprint' reveal vital clues about your health? Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Troy Fleece

The research, which is published in the online journal PLOS ONE, suggests the technique could be useful since it is quicker and much less invasive than taking a blood or urine sample.

Further experiments are now needed to see whether these unique "breathprints" could be used to detect cancer and certain lung diseases such as asthma, although the authors stress that further examinations would be needed for a firm diagnosis.