Swedish researchers have determined that saliva contains the tell-tale signs of illnesses that have an inflammatory component, such as certain cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
"An early diagnosis has significant implications for both patients and healthcare," said lead researcher Björn Klinge.
Previous studies have shown some mouth and throat diseases can be diagnosed with a saliva sample. But Klinge and his research group have now shown that it is also possible that saliva contains traces of other illnesses with an inflammatory component, noting: "We have successfully linked the secretion of substances in patient saliva to these illnesses."
He added that the discovery could have great significance for medical examinations in the future. "Instead of having to visit the doctor, patients will be able to swab the inside of their mouth with a cotton bud and send it away for analysis," Klinge explained. "If the test shows signs of illness, the patient will be called in to a doctor."
The study involved 500 individuals in southern Sweden who provided saliva samples and answered a questionnaire about their health. Researchers then analyzed the saliva samples and compared to the participants' answers on the questionnaire to reach their conclusions.
"We hope to find components in the saliva that will show when patients are in the process of developing a cardiovascular disease," said Klinge, predicting such saliva tests could be part of standard medical examinations within five years.
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