The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 16 No. 7 • August 2013


MINOR SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY SOLVED

If Your Underarms Do Not Smell Bad Where Do You Suppose the Bacteria Responsible for Underarm Malodor Have Gone?

A recent paper1 reports that there is a recessive gene that makes the armpits of a lucky 2% of the European population and most people of Asian descent free of underarm malodor. Those lucky people have two copies of the recessive gene for a transporter that fails to transport the necessary excreta to reach the bacteria living under your armpits that usually feed on this stuff, making a stink while they’re at it. (It is not clear from the article2 describing the paper where the excreta actually ends up. Could the underarm microbiota be altered as a result of the rare transport glitch?) As the authors of the article put it people who don’t have smelly armpits may have a malfunctioning transporter gene.

The thing that is weird about all this is that of the people who probably don’t need to use underarm deodorants because of their screwed up stink transporter, 78% still do according to the article. In an attempt to explain the unexplainable, the article authors offer the following: England is still dominated by people with smelly armpits, a constant reminder to people to put on something to suppress what they may not have. In a very informative statistical analysis, the authors point out that since being stink-free is so rare in the U.K., both parents of an “odorless” child are probably heterozygous, e.g., they carry a dominant allele for the stink and a recessive allele for no stink. They themselves do stink. Only ¼ of these parents’ kids will be stink-free. This may explain why people take no chances and put on underarm smell protection. Moreover, they suggest that ubiquitous advertising has overwhelmed people’s thinking abilities to where they naturally assume they must be in need of protection against the socially dangerous stench. (Sandy occasionally uses rubbing alcohol, which kills any bugs lurking around waiting for dinner to chemically convert into a stench. Works like a charm. Durk takes a lot of showers.)

References

  1. Rodriguez et al. Dependence of Deodorant Usage on ABCC11 Genotype: Scope for Personalized Genetics in Personal Hygiene. J Invest Dermatol. 133(7):1760-7 (2013 Jul).
  2. Everts. Fear of stink, driven by pheromones. Chemical & Engineering News. Volume 91, Issue 8, p. 48 (Feb. 25, 2013).

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