Home > Health, World of the Strange – Weird Science > Are you wasting money on deodorant? The answer can be found in your ears.

Are you wasting money on deodorant? The answer can be found in your ears.

Posted by  Thursday 14th February 2013.   Find Full Article Here:-

There really is ‘a gene for sweaty armpits’, but new research suggests that the lucky people who don’t have smelly sweat still use expensive deodorants.  Unfortunately 98% of the UK still smell……and REALLY need to do something about it….but not all of them do….

Illustration for Suzi Gage body odour blog

Deodorants can cause irritation and allergic reactions, and 2% of us don’t even need them.

If a newspaper headline asks “have scientists found the gene for x?”, chances are the article underneath could be replaced with the word “no”. But a single gene variation possessed by about 2% of people in the UK means they don’t produce the secretions in their underarms that attract smelly bacteria. Research from colleagues of mine in Bristol suggests that despite this, most of these sweet-smelling people still use deodorant even though they don’t need to, wasting money and potentially exposing themselves to unnecessary chemicals.

Very few human traits are truly “Mendelian“; that is, coded for in our DNA by a single gene (so named after Gregor Mendel, the 19th century green-fingered monk whose pea experiments paved the way for genetic understanding). There are a few diseases that are caused by single gene mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s, but the transmission of inherited traits is for the most part a lot more complicated than differences in single genes.

There is one trait known to be dictated by a single gene though: earwax type. Most Europeans have wet earwax, because they have at least one copy of the “wet” version of a gene (catchily called ABCC11). Just over a million people in the UK have a rarer dry type of earwax, as they have two copies of a different version of the gene (we all have two of every gene, one from our mothers, and one from our fathers).

This gene doesn’t just define our earwax type. It also holds the code for building the protein that transports sweat out of pores in our armpits, where it attracts the bacteria that cause body odour. Or at least, one version of it does. The lucky “dry earwax” people don’t produce the protein, so they don’t make the apocrine underarm sweat that attracts bacteria (it’s worth noting we produce two types of sweat, the other being body-wide ecrine sweat, salty water, which isn’t affected by this gene).

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