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Do All Adults Have to Wear Deodorant?

In a 2013 study, British researchers found that roughly 2% of the study participants had a rare version of the gene ABCC11, which is linked to both earwax production and underarm odor. People with this rare gene variant are more likely to have dry earwax, as well as having odor-free armpits. These individuals don't really need to bother using deodorant-- although most still do. Researchers believe that the connection between earwax and armpits has to do with the body’s amino acid production. Fast-growing bacteria give sweat its offensive smell, and people with the gene variant produce less of a particular amino acid that fosters bacteria growth.

Bad news for the deodorant market?

  • The researchers estimated that although only 2 percent of Europeans have the gene variant, it is much more common among people of East Asian descent.

  • The study found that those people who are immune to smelly armpits still tend to use deodorant regularly, in keeping with sociocultural norms.

  • The research, led by a genetic epidemiologist at the University of Bristol, was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology in 2013.

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More Info: Smithsonian magazine

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