"What is clear from this study is that we were not able to discount stress. It seems sensible and prudent to test this work with more people over a range of ages in more normal settings.
"We will need to think carefully about experimental design in order to explore this potential relationship further as there are ethical issues to consider when deliberately placing volunteers under stress. Any follow up study would need to be led by experts in stress," Professor Thomas continued.
Breath profiling has become an attractive diagnostic method for clinicians, and recently researchers have found biomarkers associated with tuberculosis, multiple cancers, pulmonary disease and asthma. It is still unclear how to best manage external factors, such as diet, environment and exercise, which can affect a person's breath sample.
"It is possible that stress markers in the breath could mask or confound other key compounds that are used to diagnose a certain disease or condition, so it is important that these are accounted for," said Professor Thomas.
The researcher's initial assumptions are that stressed people breathe faster and have increased pulse rates and an elevated blood-pressure, which is likely to change their breath profile. They emphasise, however, that it is too soon to postulate the biological origins and the roles of the compounds as part of a stress-sensitive response.
|Contact: Michael Bishop|
Institute of Physics