Smell and the nose of the beholder

MSNBC : When it comes to a man’s body odor, the fragrance — or stench — is in the nose of the beholder, according to U.S. researchers who suggest a single gene may determine how people perceive body odor.

The study, published online on Sunday in the journal Nature, helps explain why the same sweaty man can smell like vanilla to some, like urine to others and for about a third of adults, have no smell at all.

Researchers focused on the chemical androstenone, which is created when the body breaks down the male sex hormone testosterone. Androstenone is in the sweat of men and women, but it is more highly concentrated in men. How one perceives its smell appears to have a lot to do with variations in one odor receptor gene called OR7D4.

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