Monday, 22 October 2012


old age at Rotchild BLVD
old age at Rotchild BLVD (Photo credit: shyb)

The general thought that when people age, they smell.  Read on and find out how way off that thinking can be.

A recent study showed that you don't have to be old to smell bad.  The surprising fact is that they found the elderly have less intense body odour than younger people do!

A published study in the journal PLoS One, ran a test to look at humans' ability to judge age based on smell alone.  Forty-one volunteers between the ages of 20 and 95 spent 5 nights sleeping in T-shirts with nursing pads sewn into their armpits.  Before going to bed, they all showered with odour free soap and laundered their linens in odour free detergent.  Once the 5 nights were over, researchers took the pads out of the shirts and put them in individual jars.

Another group of volunteers then were given the task of assessing the odours by smelling the inside of the jars.  They then had to rate them based on the intensity and pleasantness or unpleasantness.  

The most surprising results were that 75 to 95 year olds were judged to be less intense and more pleasant than the young and middle aged jars!

The most unpleasant came from the 45 to 55 year old men's jars.

How is smell connected to your health? 

It looks like old people were getting the bad wrap in the smell department.  The authors of the study said that the results support the public opinion that old people have a certain smell.  But the tables are now turned when the so called smell is not nearly as repugnant as people usually describe.

The research suggest that the thought that old people smell bad is linked to the prevailing negative perception about old age, rather than the true nature of the odour. However, the researchers have also stated that the published report does not mean that all elderly people come up smelling like roses.

According to the Social Issues Research Centre,  an individual has a certain preference in terms of odour and what smells good to one person may not smell that great to another.  Another factor that can affect the sense of smell is how healthy they are.  Physical or mental impairment can impact your ability to smell properly.

For example if you were one of the judges and you suffer from migraines, depression or anorexia,  these conditions can affect your ability to smell accurately and it could be skewed.  Similar to damage to taste buds, the damage to our sense of smell can be insignificant.

How do we smell then?

olfaction (Photo credit: theloushe)
A simple explanation is this.

Body odours is produced by the interaction between skin gland secretions and bacteria that is present on our skin.  

As we age, the skin gland secretion may alter and therefore it changes the way we smell.

If you want more information, click on the word, olfaction or read the related article for the 10 cool facts about olfaction.

Does your genes determine your smell preference?

Research does seem to indicate that genes plays a roll in deciding what odours we prefer.  

For example, women can identify men based on single genes.  In one smell test, they prefer odours from men who shared genes inherited from their fathers and did not like odours from men who had the same genes as their mothers.

Looks like this trivia may trigger an interesting water cooler conversation and scientists believe that with the media picking up this story, it will actually help to push the relevant people to research the sense of smell.

What are your thoughts?

My next topic for discussion is, "Does Sugar Make You Less Smart?"

You may also like to read:


An impostor in our midst
He's not who he says he is.
High up in the mountain mist.
He lies low, you will miss.
Sinister black mask.
Revealed at last.
Catch him very fast.
Action taken best, 
Kick him out the nest.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.
Until my next post,

Here's To Your Health!

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  1. (BO)Body Odor is also affected by the food we consume :)

    1. Hi Sherine,

      That's very true and Asians do what Asians do best. That is to cook up spicy foods that tantalizes the palate or burn it up, whichever the case may be!


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