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Study suggests deodorant use could be genetically tailored

By Simon Pitman , 17-Jan-2013
Last updated the 17-Jan-2013 at 17:39 GMT

Research shows that 75 percent of people who carry a specific version of a gene meaning they don’t produce under-arm odor, wear deodorant anyway.

While the results suggest that individuals are conditioned to wear deodorant, regardless of whether or not they need it, more interestingly the researchers believe that it could lead to the genetic tailoring of deodorant use.

"These findings have some potential for using genetics in the choice of personal hygiene products," said Dr. Santiago Rodgriquez.

“A simple gene test might strengthen self-awareness and save some unnecessary purchases and chemical exposures for non-odor producers.”

2 percent of women carry the gene

The study, which was carried out the University of Bristol, in the UK, took a sample of 6,495 women and found that approximately 2 percent, or 117 women, carry a specific version of a gene that means they do not produce under arm odor.

The results, which were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Investigative Dermatology, also showed that approximately 5 percent of people who do produce odor, do not wear deodorant.

Conversely, more than a fifth of those individual who do not produce under-arm odor – or 26 out of 117 women, do not use deodorant, while the rest of the group stated they wore deodorant every day.

Who realizes they do or do not need deodorant?

"An important finding of this study relates to those individuals who, according to their genotype, do not produce under-arm odor. One quarter of these individuals must consciously or subconsciously recognize that they do not produce odor and do not use deodorant, whereas most odor producers do use deodorant,” said lead author Professor Ian Day.

“However, three quarters of those who do not produce an odor 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."

Interestingly, the study authors also noted that, as an alternative to genetic testing, determining whether someone carries the gene for no under-arm odor is often dictated by dry ear wax, whereas moist ear wax invariably points to the presence of the gene pattern for under-arm odor.

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