Winning the genetic body odor lottery could save on deodorant

Published on January 21, 2013 at 5:15 PM · No Comments

By Helen Albert, Senior medwireNews Reporter

medwireNews: Research shows that people who have two copies of the minor allele of a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) found in the ABCC11 gene could save money on deodorant as they are genetically odorless.

The team found that, despite being odorless, 77.8% of White Europeans homozygous for the minor A allele of the ABCC11 SNP rs17822931 routinely wear deodorant, whereas 4.7% of people with body odor (GG or GA genotypes) do not.

"An important finding of this study relates to those individuals who, according to their genotype, do not produce under-arm odour. 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," commented study author Ian Day (University of Bristol, UK) in a press statement.

"However, three quarters of those who do not produce an odor regularly use deodorants," he adds. "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."

The A allele rs17822931 is more common in east Asians than Europeans. The SNP has also been linked to earwax type in previous studies, with AA genotype individuals having dry and G allele carriers wet earwax.

Additional research showed that AA genotype individuals have very few characteristic underarm odorants, but all individuals with axillary osmidrosis have at least one copy of the rs17822931 G allele.

For this study, around 17,000 individuals from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) were genotyped and surveyed regarding deodorant usage.

In total, 134 AA homozygotes were present in the cohort. Frequency of the A allele was significantly higher for non-White than White individuals, ranging from 24.9% in non-White to 12.5% in White participants.

The researchers note that it was particularly White AA genotype individuals who persisted in using deodorant despite not needing to. "On the basis of genotype (and/or dry earwax), this group could elect to abandon the chemical exposures and costs of deodorant use," write corresponding author Santiago Rodriguez, also from the University of Bristol, and colleagues in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

"This represents a potential application of personalized genetics in personal hygiene," they conclude.

Licensed from medwireNews with permission from Springer Healthcare Ltd. ©Springer Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved. Neither of these parties endorse or recommend any commercial products, services, or equipment.

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