What the hell is that smell? September 03 2014, 0 Comments


Pew…that’s my strongest memory of packed tram trips whilst living in Melbourne! The smell was frequently utterly nauseating- the combination of carried supplies of ground coffee, strong cheeses, preserved sausages…and raised straining armpits!

I’m particularly sensitive to the smell of body odour. The funny thing about that is that I have never used an underarm deodorant in my life- I just don’t personally experience body odour. Nor do I have underarm hair. I thought I was a freak until reading recently that I’m not alone.

Apparently, a small percentage (2%) of people carry a rare genetic variant located in the ABCC11 gene…making it inactive. The production of body odour depends on this gene being active. An indicator of having this genetic variant is earwax- dry, flaky earwax means that you can probably toss the deodorant in the bin…yellow, sticky wax means that you’re probably a stinker!

Again, commercial marketing has most people believing that they need to wear a deodorant anyway. Sweat is actually nearly odourless- with variations produced through both diet and ethnicity. The smell is actually created by surface bacteria breaking down the sweat.

I’m betting that right now you’re reaching for a cotton bud to check on where you might stand in the stinker stakes!