New health research out of England has reached the surprising conclusion that deodorants may be unnecessary for three out of every four people with a particular genetic makeup that results in a lack of underarm body odor.
Medical investigators with the University of Bristol who studied 6,495 women found about two percent carry a rare version of a particular gene — known as ABCC11 — that renders their underarms odorless. But the researchers found 78 percent of those with the genetic variation still use deodorant on all or most days, even though their underarms produce no odor.
The finding, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, suggest genetics may one day guide consumer use of personal-care products, said lead researcher Santiago Rodriguez, M.D.SPECIAL: These 5 Things Flush 40 lbs. of Fat Out of Your Body — Read More.
“These findings have some potential for using genetics in the choice of personal hygiene products,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “A simple gene test might strengthen self-awareness and save some unnecessary purchases and chemical exposures for non-odor producers.”
The U.K. researchers noted sweat glands produce sweat which, when combined with bacteria, result in underarm odor. But the new study determined the production of odor depends on the existence of an active ABCC11 gene. The investigators also noted people who have an inactive ABCC11 gene are more likely to have dry (not sticky) ear wax and that may be a good way to tell if a person produces underarm odor.
So why would people without underarm odor use deodorant?
“Three quarters of those who do not produce an odor regularly use deodorants,” said co-researcher Ian Day. “We believe that these people simply follow socio-cultural norms.”