What does your saliva say about your health?

    • Topic: Human Biology

    • Location: Hall of Human Life

    Doctors use lots of tools, like stethoscopes, to safely and comfortably find out what is going on inside your body. Another potential tool is your saliva; it’s very easy to collect and research has shown that it contains chemicals that could provide information about your health. Doctors and scientists know a lot about some of these chemicals, but there is much more to learn. We are exploring some of the chemicals scientists know less about so that we can learn how to use saliva to test people’s health.

    In this study, people (age 12 to 70) will be asked to donate saliva by spitting or drooling into a small test tube, approximately four times. People will also be asked to answer some questions about their health.

    We will look at the saliva we have collected for biomarkers – the chemicals that indicate information about your health. We want to figure out how these biomarkers are different for different people and across different ages. We are particularly interested in biomarkers for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and inflammation.

    We hope that our results will allow doctors to use saliva collection to replace blood collection for many medical tests. This will allow doctors to more safely and comfortably monitor people’s health and better enable them to prevent and treat diseases.

    Bing Liu

        » Bing Liu

    Activities to Try in the Hall of Human Life

    What’s in Your Walk?

    Find the “How efficient is your walk?” link station in the Food environment. This link station is looking at how you move to give you information about what is happening inside your body when you move.

    Try walking normally at first. How many calories did you burn? Now think about some of the different ways you walk, like when you are walking with a friend through the Museum, running to catch a bus, or anything else you might do on a regular basis. Try walking in some of these different ways to see how moving differently changes the work your body is doing.

    What happens to the calories your body burns when you change how you walk? What does this tell you about what is going on inside your body during these different activities? Could you use this information to guess how many calories other people are burning as you see them move about the world?

    Activities to Try at Home

    Health Signs

    One of the most effective tools at a doctor’s disposal is to ask you how you’re doing. Why is that? What information do you have about your health? How do you get this information? Are there other ways doctors could get this information? Are there things you know that your doctor can’t test for?

    Think about things both big and small – How do you know you might have a cold? How do you know that you might have just gotten a paper cut?

Research Spotlight

Contact Living Laboratory staff:

livinglaboratory@mos.org