After Seven Years of Research, We Finally Know What's in Your Pee

A team of 20 researchers from University of Alberta proudly announced a commendable achievement on Thursday. Using no fewer than five different experimental methods, they've discovered over 3,000 different chemical compounds in human urine. And it only took them seven years.

Urine analysis sounds pretty gross at first. When you really think about it, though, a better understanding of what's in our pee could bears some pretty exciting implications in science and medicine. Consider that the standard urine tests typically check just six or seven compounds, even though urine contains traces of everything from the food you eat to the drugs you take to random bacteria floating around your body. This new comprehension of the yellow liquid could not only help researchers better understand how our bodies process waste but also enable doctors to diagnose illnesses in a quicker, less invasive manner. (Nobody likes needles.)

From a big picture point of view, the findings reveal some interesting details about how the human body works. For instance, nearly 2,300 of the compounds found in the urine come from outside the human body in the form of food, drink, drugs and even cosmetics. The researchers also concluded that urine is one of the more complex fluids in the human body with five to ten times more compounds than are found in saliva.

If you're curious about what you're flushing down the toilet on a daily basis, the research team launched a searchable database along with an academic article about their findings. Believe it or not, even after seven years of research and countless experiments, the scientists say that they still don't fully understand the complexity of urine. They say that their study "should be viewed as a starting point for future studies and future improvements in this field." So whoever wants to stare at urine for the next seven years, raise your hand. [PopSci]