Genetic Deodorant

People carrying a certain gene variant that dictates fresh underarms are less likely to wear antiperspirant.

Jan 18, 2013
Jef Akst

FLICKR, GREGG O'CONNELLA single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) located in the ABCC11 gene dictates whether or not a person is likely to stock up on deodorant, according to a study published this week (January 17) in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

The variant, known as the rs17822931 A allele, has previously been linked to underarm odor (and earwax type), and now researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom have put it to the test. Drawing from data on some 17,000 people taking part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, the team found that people carrying two copies of the A allele are five times more likely to never use deodorant or use it very infrequently, as compared to those carrying only one or no copies of the A allele.

Still, however, nearly 80 percent of white European AA individuals used deodorant. Worse, perhaps, some 5 percent of non-AA, or odor-producing, people did not use deodorant. “This is likely driven by sociocultural factors,” the authors wrote. “On the basis of genotype (and/or dry earwax), this group could elect to abandon the chemical exposures and costs of deodorant use. This represents a potential application of personalized genetics in personal hygiene.”

An interesting aside: there is ethnic diversity at the rs17822931 locus, with east Asians tending to have a higher than average frequency of allele A.

(Hat tip to GenomeWeb)