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A Star Trek scanner that will measure your overall health – IPhone app on the way?
By Fiona Macrae

‘Star Trek’ scanner that can measure damage to your body from smoking and junk food
In Star Trek, Dr McCoy was able to diagnose patients in an instant using his trusty ‘tricorder’.

Now a real-life equivalent has been developed, giving medics the ability to tell within seconds just how healthy – or unhealthy – you are.
The handheld device, the size of a computer mouse, gauges the damage that bad habits such as smoking or a fondness for junk food are having on the body.

The new handheld device will be able to gauge the effects of smoking and junk food on the body within seconds and it is hoped shock people into changing their lifestyle

The new handheld device will be able to gauge the effects of smoking and junk food on the body within seconds and it is hoped shock people into changing their lifestyle
It is hoped that the read-out, which takes as little as 30 seconds, will shock people into leading healthier lifestyles, in the same way as standing on the bathroom scales jolts many into a diet. A version suitable for home use could be on sale by this summer for as little as £175.
A similar gadget already exists in the realm of TV science-fiction – the ‘tricorder’ used to diagnose and treat illness in the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

Its real-life counterpart creates a ‘fingerprint’ of a person’s lifestyle by shining a beam of light at their body, collecting the reflected light and analysing it for information on which wavelengths have been absorbed. This allows it to measure levels of health-boosting antioxidants in the skin.
Antioxidants are credited with warding off a host of diseases and keep ageing at bay by mopping up free radicals – dangerous oxygen molecules produced when food is turned into energy.

Existing techniques for measuring antioxidants in the skin all require small samples to be cut away.
Professor Jürgen Lademann, of the Charité medical school in Berlin, said: ‘Everybody wants beautiful skin.

‘Smoking, alcohol consumption and lack of sleep abuse the antioxidants in the skin because of free radical formation.

‘We have developed a non-evasive, protective system where the reflected light contains information about the level of antioxidants.’ The scanner takes as little as 30 seconds to rate a person’s antioxidant level between one and 10. Changes in diet and lifestyle are also quickly picked up.

The professor said: ‘If you decide to change your lifestyle and eat salad tonight, you will see a small increase in the antioxidant reading tomorrow. If you eat salad every day, your reading will be higher still after three or four days.’

The device is being tested on 50 secondary school pupils in the hope that it will encourage them to address bad habits.
Professor Lademann, who admits to changing his own lifestyle after taking the test, said: ‘We expect that the behaviour of the students will change when they are quickly made aware of their own physical reaction to certain behaviours.’

The results mainly relate to the health of the skin. However, antioxidants are credited with many benefits, from slowing the ageing process to cutting the risk of ailments including heart disease and Alzheimer’s. And cancer specialists may find the device useful when monitoring the side-effects of chemotherapy.

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Dark Politricks says:

I wonder how long it will take to see a version of this scanner appear as an application on the IPhone? They already have apps that measure your heart rate using the light on the back so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a version come out in the next few years.

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