There exist among us, walking around as if they were also smelly animals, beings who do not produce any underarm odor, yet still insist on using deodorant, the better to hide their secret odor neutrality from the rest of the foul-smelling world. Some of these strange creatures might not even realize just how odorless they really are.
While that might have been a pretty good synopsis for a pretty bad straight-to-Netflix X-Men sequel, it is actually the result of some new research that suggests that more than 75 percent of people with a particular gene configuration that makes their armpit sweat smell as neutral as a carbon monoxide leak are being duped by Big Odor into cauterizing their pit pores with perfumed chemical sticks, sprays, and gels. Using a sample of 6,495 women who are part of a wider study, researchers at the University of Bristol found that roughly two percent (117 out of 6,495) of mothers carry a rare version of a particular called (by scientists who don't worry too hard about password protection) ABCC11.
Only 26 out of the 117 women, however, take full advantage of their odorless underarms by not using deodorant (that contrasts with the roughly five percent of the general smelly population also opting to go "full odor"). A whopping 78 percent of people with ABCC11 still adhere to the ritual of wiping or dabbing their underarms with a white gluestick that purports to smell like the fresh and pure ice of the glacier that sunk the Titanic, or a California orange blossom at sunset. Professor Ian Day, the study's lead author, explained that people who wear deodorant unnecessarily "simply follow socio-cultural norms," and the first author of the paper Dr. Santiago Rodriguez suggested, "A simple gene test might strengthen self-awareness and save some unnecessary purchases and chemical exposures for non-odour producers."
Don't worry, though — you don't have to sniff armpits to figure out who among your inner circle of supposedly stinky human companions is odor neutral. All you have to do is go into their bathroom, dig through the trash for their old Q-Tips, and determine if their earwax is sticky or dry, because people carrying the genetic variant ABCC11 are more likely to have dry earwax. You're welcome.
Deodorants: Do we really need them? [EurekAlert]
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