Photo: Jen Dunlap
One million people may be using deodorant needlessly, a study has suggested, as they have a gene that means they do not produce body odour.Researchers have found that two per cent of the population have a genetic variant that means they do not suffer from under arm body odour yet more three quarters of them continue to use scents.
The ‘cultural norm’ in Britain is to use deodorant every day whether body odour is a problem or not, the researchers said. Where as elsewhere in the world most people with the genetic variant are aware that they do not smell and do not use deodorant, they said.
According to Euromonitor, the deodorant industry was worth £604m in 2011, representing a potential saving of over £12m to the two per cent of UK adults who don’t produce underarm odour if they shunned deodorants.
Only around five per cent of people do produce body odour do not use deodorant, the researches suggested.
The gene variant is known as ABCC11 and the study authors said that the consistency of earwax is a good indication of those who have it. People who have dry earwax as opposed to sticky earwax are highly likely to have the ABCC11 variant and therefore do not produce under arm body odour.
The research was carried out on a sample of 6,495 women who were part of the wider Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol.
The researchers found that about two per cent of mothers carried the gene variant.
They discovered that almost one in four of people with the gene do not use deodorant, suggesting they are aware of their special status and do not waste the money.
The findings were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology
Lead author Professor Ian Day said: “An important finding of this study relates to those individuals who, according to their genotype, do not produce underarm 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.
“However, three quarters of those who do not produce an odour 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.”
Co-author of the paper, Dr Santiago Rodriguez added: “These findings have some potential for using genetics in the choice of personal hygiene products. A simple gene test might strengthen self-awareness and save some unnecessary purchases and chemical exposures for non-odour producers.”
Sweat glands produce sweat which, combined with bacteria, result in underarm odour.
The production of odour depends on the existence of an active ABCC11 gene. However, the ABCC11 gene is known to be inactive in some people.
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