Most often body odors are associated with a lack of hygiene, but can it be early signs of diseases? Experts believe that many deadly diseases can be diagnosed through smell.

Studies have shown that certain diseases have their own "breath print," which can be considered biomarkers for early diagnosis of the conditions.

Body odor occurs when bacteria mix with sweat. A person's body odor is influenced by a variety of factors such as hormones, diet, certain medications and underlying health conditions. Other factors that influence body odors are humidity, genetics, being overweight and exercise.

Researchers have found that hormonal changes such as mensuration and ovulation also cause changes in body odors.

How do diseases affect body odor?

According to experts, when a person suffers from a disease, the way their body works alters. Changes in different biochemical processes can lead to the production of small volatile molecules in the body, which get transported by blood through the body. The body then releases it through breath, urine and sweat.

"According to the scientific literature, there is evidence that the scent may contain markers for lung cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, melanoma and more," Yehuda Zeiri, a biomedical engineer at Ben-Gurion University's Kiryat Bergman Campus in Be'er-Sheva, Israel, told Reader's Digest.

Diseases that can be detected through smell

1. Preeclampsia:

It is a hypertension disorder caused during pregnancy. The complication usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women who do not otherwise have blood pressure issues. The condition elevates protein levels in urine that indicate kidney damage and signs of other organ damage. If left untreated, preeclampsia can cause complications for the expectant mother and the unborn child and even can turn fatal.

According to a study published in 2016, preeclampsia can be detected using an expectant mother's breath print with 84% accuracy.

2. Lung Cancer:

Lung cancer occurs when cells in the lungs grow abnormally. Studies have shown that lung cancers can be detected at their very earliest stages using just a simple breath test called Na-Nose.

The developers of the technology hope to extend its use to pick up early signs of other serious diseases such as Parkinson's, kidney disease, liver disease, Alzheimer's, and multiple sclerosis.

3. Kidney failure:

Kidney failure is a serious health condition that occurs when one or both of the kidneys stop functioning. It can be due to medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Researchers have found that ammonia in the breath indicates kidney failure.

Based on this finding, scientists from the University of Illinois have developed a disposable device that can detect the breath print of kidney failure.

"In the clinical setting, physicians use bulky instruments, basically the size of a big table, to detect and analyze these compounds. We want to hand out a cheap sensor chip to patients so they can use it and throw it away," Ying Diao, who lead the team that developed the technology, said in a news release.

4. Diabetes

Studies have shown that people with diabetes have a fruity smell. The fruity odor is due to ketoacidosis caused due to insufficient or inefficient use of insulin in the body. The fatal condition causes the body to burn fat for fuel.

5. Liver failure

When a patient's liver stops functioning or if it slows down, several toxins and contaminants get built up in the urine, sweat and breath. A raw fish smell is associated with liver failure.

Underarm odor
Experts believe that many deadly diseases can be diagnosed from a person's body odor. SuperFantastic, CC BY 2.0