Could you ditch your deodorant? Study finds some of us "don't smell"
About two per cent of the population could throw out their deodorant after Bristol researchers discovered they do not produce underarm odour.
A study of Bristol families showed that people who carry a rare version of a particular gene do not produce odour from their armpits.
Despite finding that two per cent (117 out of 6,495) of mothers involved in the city-based Children of the 90s study carried the gene, they discovered that 78 per cent of the women still used deodorant. Researchers said this was a stark contrast to North East Asia, where most people tend not to need deodorant and do not use it.
They also found that people who carry the gene tend to have dry rather than sticky ear wax, which could be used as an indicator of whether they produce underarm odour.
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Professor Ian Day of the Bristol University study and lead author of the research, which was published in the Journal of Investigative today, said: "One quarter of these individuals must consciously or subconsciously recognise that they do not produce odour and do not use deodorant, whereas most odour producers do use deodorant. However, three quarters of those who do not produce an odour regularly use deodorants; we believe that these people simply follow socio-cultural norms.
"This contrasts with the situation in North East Asia, where most people do not need to use deodorant and they don't."
Another of the paper's authors, Dr Santiago Rodriguez, said the research could be used for genetic testing in the future to help people decide whether they need to use certain personal hygiene products.
"A simple gene test might strengthen self-awareness and save some unnecessary purchases and chemical exposures for non-odour producers," he said. Previous studies have shown the link between a genetic variant in the ABCC11 gene and under-arm odour. Sweat glands produce sweat which when combined with bacteria, results in under-arm odour. Whether someone produces odour depends on the existence of an active ABCC11 gene.
However, the gene is known to be inactive in some people. Children of the 90s recruited pregnant women in the former Avon area in 1991 and has followed them and their children over the past 21 years taking samples, measurements and questionnaires from the participants to build up a database of information that has enabled researchers to discover the impact of genetics and external factors on health.