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The Deodorant Gene …

People who have a certain variant of the ABCC11 gene don't produce under arm odor, though many of them still wear deodorant, Bristol University researchers report in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. (The variant is also linked to dry earwax.)

Drawing on about 17,000 people from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children study, the researchers investigate how having the ABCC11 rs17822931 variant affects people's hygiene behavior. People who are homozygotes for the rs17822931 A allele are five times less likely to use deodorant than GG homozygotes and heterozygotes are, they find.

However, the researchers note that nearly 80 percent of white European mothers in the study who, based on their genotype, should not produce under arm odor still wear deodorant and that that behavior is likely socially and culturally driven.

"This effect has a biological basis that can result in a change in the family's environment if an aerosol deodorant is used. It also indicates potential cost saving to the nonodorous and scope for personalized genetics usage in personal hygiene choices, with consequent reduction of inappropriate chemical exposures for some," the researchers add.