Recognize age from body odor

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Human body odor can predict age

Body odor plays a crucial role in interpersonal relationships. For example, only those who smell good are eligible for partner selection. It smells good relative and is perceived very differently individually. However, according to US researchers, the fragrance cocktail in human sweat also reveals the age of a person.

Older people have a less intense body odor As recently reported by US researchers in the specialist journal "PloS ONE", the body odor of a person can reveal their age. Accordingly, humans are able - like animals - to perceive and classify chemical signals of aging.

For the study, the smellers wore a T-shirt with a sweat-absorbing cloth rag under their armpits for five nights. The lobes with the odor samples were then individually placed in airtight glass jars after being crushed. The donors came from the age groups 20 to 30, 45 to 55 and 75 to 95 years. 41 young women and men smelled in several runs on two containers with different samples. You should indicate the age range of the samples and how intense and unpleasant they smelled. The researchers found that the test smokers gave correct estimates of the age groups significantly more often. The rate of misjudgment was lowest among the samples of the elderly. Despite assumptions to the contrary, the elderly had no strong smell. Rather, her armpit sweat was felt to be less uncomfortable than that of the young and middle-aged age group.

Humans can perceive chemical signals of aging in body odor Researchers have known for some time that certain information is transmitted about the chemical substances in human body odor. "Humans can perceive signals in body odor that allow us, for example, to recognize diseases, find a suitable partner and differentiate relatives from unrelated ones," explains study leader Johan Lundström from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. The perception of these signals is usually subliminal and subconscious.

Studies with animals have already shown that body odor changes over the course of life. Experts suspect that this change will help males, for example, to exclude older females who are no longer fertile when choosing a partner. The females could use the smell to identify the males who are a bit older and have survived successfully. The male's good genes may be of benefit to the offspring.

However, it is still unclear which of the many substances in body odor is specifically responsible for information about age. In further studies, these biomarkers will be identified and in addition, how the brain processes the chemical information will be examined.

Where does the body odor come from? Everyone has a genetically determined individual body odor. Identical twins are the only exception, since their body odor is identical. The basic body odor arises mainly from the breakdown of proteins, the so-called MHC complex. This is genetically determined and individually designed differently. According to researchers, the body odor between two people is more similar, the closer the genetic relationship is. Accordingly, there is a "family smell". This also speaks for the fact that a newborn recognizes its mother by the fragrance of the glands on the nipples. Studies using mice have shown that odors influenced by the MHC complex play an important role in choosing a sexual partner, naturally inhibit incest and reduce the risk of miscarriages. (ag)

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