home
RSS
Scientists confirm existence of 'old person smell'
May 30th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Scientists confirm existence of 'old person smell'

You know that smell in retirement homes and your grandmother's house? Mothballs and stale air may not be entirely to blame.

In a new study, researchers have confirmed for the first time that older people have a recognizable body odor that can't be fully explained by grooming, diet, or other environmental quirks. In fact, the study found, this "old person smell" is distinctive enough that young adults can more often than not identify an old person by body odor alone.

This isn't totally surprising. Scientists have known for years that a broad range of animal species-including mice, deer, otters, rabbits, and monkeys-undergo body-odor changes in adulthood, which may help the animals select suitable mating partners.

Humans have found better ways of screening potential mates, but like other animals, we may have once used age-related signals gathered from body odor to choose partners, avoid sick people, or distinguish kin from non-kin, says Johan Lundström, Ph.D., the lead author of the study.

Health.com: Why do I have body odor?

Lundström, a senior neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit research institute in Philadelphia, began wondering about the effects of age on body odor when he noticed that the so-called old person smell seems to be consistent across cultures.

As a child in Sweden, he often accompanied his mother to the nursing home where she worked, and he remembered a unique odor throughout the building. "I never smelled it again until years later, when I came to the U.S. and gave a talk at a retirement home," he says. "As soon as I walked through the door, that exact same scent hit me."

Later, when he described his experience to a Japanese colleague, he learned there's even a word for this smell in Japanese: kareishū.

Lundström and his colleagues designed their study, which appears this week in the journal PLoS ONE, to explore whether there's a biological basis for the smell.

Health.com: The best anti-aging secrets

First, they instructed 41 men and women who fell into one of three age groups (20 to 30, 45 to 55, and 75 to 90) to sleep for five consecutive nights in a t-shirt containing special underarm pads. Then, after cutting the pads into pieces and placing them in glass jars, the researchers asked a separate group of 41 young adults to smell two samples back-to-back and determine which came from an older person.

The young adults had trouble distinguishing between the young and middle-age groups, but they were much more successful at singling out samples from the oldest group. In addition-contrary to the stereotype of the old person smell-the volunteers generally rated the samples from the oldest group as being less intense and less unpleasant than those from the youngergroups.

The telltale odor couldn't be chalked up to the older participants' lifestyle or environment. The researchers asked all of the people who provided underarm pads to avoid scented soaps and shampoos, alcohol, tobacco, and certain foods and spices-all of which can affect sweat and body odor. (They also excluded any pads that were obviously contaminated by soap, smoke, perfume, or other odors.)

Although some of the participants in the older group were taking medications for chronic conditions such as high cholesterol and hypertension, none of these prescription drugs are known to alter body odor.

Health.com: How to get rid of annoying body problems

The root cause of the old person smell is still a mystery, but the study notes that long-term changes to the skin glands may be involved. Lundström suspects it also may be related to an accelerated rate of cell decay. "As cells die at a faster pace, they might give off a different odor that is unique to people with old age," he says.

Another possibility is that the scent indicates an undiagnosed illness. Although the study participants were all outwardly healthy, some may have had underlying ailments that come naturally with oldage, Lundström says.

If this last explanation pans out, body odor could ultimately prove useful in identifying certain diseases, perhaps even before existing tests can, Lundström says.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011


Next entry »
soundoff (1,125 Responses)
  1. Ford Van Repair

    http://www.pet-fufu.com/cgi-bin/pet/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=6054&url=http://www.sprinterrepairnearme.com/

    May 31, 2021 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. MileSwa

    black cialis from singapore https://ckacialis.com/ – cheap cialis 20 mg i want to buy cialis in australia

    May 31, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Van Technician Shop

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely feel this website needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the info!

    https://www.mf-shogyo.co.jp/link.php?url=http://fleetrepairshops.com/pleasure-way-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 31, 2021 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. harga koin binance

    Howdy! This article could not be written any better!
    Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate!

    He constantly kept preaching about this. I will forward this
    post to him. Pretty sure he will have a great read.
    Many thanks for sharing!

    May 31, 2021 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Xavier Zaiss

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a video game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life articles and blogs

    http://beyondnewhorizons.com/2009/10/on-the-move/

    May 31, 2021 at 06:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sprinter Van Body Shop Near Me

    https://it.paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=http://commercialvanrepairshop.com/upholstery-shop-near-me/

    May 31, 2021 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Gmc Luxury Van Repair

    http://www.gihub.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetrepairshops.com/sprinter-van-restoration-shop-near-me

    May 31, 2021 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Roof Mounted A/C Leak Repair On Sprinter Van

    http://forum.kinoafisha.info/cc.php?url=https://sprintervanrepairnearme.com/

    May 31, 2021 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Conversion Shop

    http://www.aarss.com/redir.php?siteref=&aarsslink=https://fleettruckrepairshop.com/van-repair-shop-near-me-3

    May 31, 2021 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Business Van Repair Shop

    http://www.sweetpaulmag.com/Redirect.aspx?destination=https://fleetrepairshops.com/sprinter-van-technician-shop-near-me/

    May 31, 2021 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Video Marketing Agency

    Excellent post. I definitely appreciate this website. Stick with it!

    https://www.f-academy.jp/mmca?no=352&url=https://affordableranking.com/

    May 31, 2021 at 19:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ZisseVed

    viagra vs. cialis cialis phone number how to get cialis without doctor

    May 31, 2021 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. City Bus Repair Shop

    Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a really good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

    https://publishing.brookes.ac.uk/?URL=fleetservicerepairshop.com/sprinter-van-maintenance-shop-near-me/holostyak-stb-2021

    May 31, 2021 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. EncoxHtf

    cialis dosage side effects cialis covered by health insurance cialis 40 mg review

    May 31, 2021 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. EncoxDev

    canadian animal pharmacy pharmacy live ce online ventolin canada pharmacy

    May 31, 2021 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. EncoxAni

    cvs store hours pharmacy walgreens pharmacy store locations best drugstore foundation

    May 31, 2021 at 22:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Repair Center Near Me

    Good blog you've got here.. It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    http://www.hr-journal.ru/out.php?link=https://ocrv.vip

    May 31, 2021 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Airstream Van Repair

    I could not refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

    http://local.kbzk.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.boxtruckrepairshop.com/touring-van-repair-shop-near-me

    June 1, 2021 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Bus Repair Shop Near Me

    https://assets7.elephone.hk/static/redirect?url=https://www.boxtruckrepairshop.com/nissan-luxury-van-repair-shop-near-me/

    June 1, 2021 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Brogan Horn

    Those are yours alright! . We at least need to get these people stealing images to start blogging! They probably just did a image search and grabbed them. They look good though!

    https://torgi.gov.ru/forum/user/profile/1398783.page

    June 1, 2021 at 02:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Van Upholstery

    I could not refrain from commenting. Very well written!

    http://em.gohawaii.com/mtr40/c2.php?HVCB/26693011/218753/H/N/V/http://boxtruckrepairshop.com/executive-van-repair-shop-near-me

    June 1, 2021 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. EncoxDev

    prescription drugs online without doctor pharmacy drug store canada pharmacies online pharmacy

    June 1, 2021 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Specialty Van Repair Shop Near Me

    An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I do believe that you should write more about this subject matter, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people do not talk about these issues. To the next! Kind regards!!

    http://aff-tracking.dkt.com.vn/click/33966?url=https://issenbergdesign.com/uncategorized/after-tightening-the-bolts-at-the-bottom/

    June 1, 2021 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. fabrication near me

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me just as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I genuinely believed you'd have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you weren't too busy looking for attention.

    http://www.chaosns.com/link.php?url=https://www.ingenieurleistungenreiter.de/index.php?option=com_phocaguestbook&view=phocaguestbook&id=1&Itemid=4&t=140&limitstart=57280

    June 1, 2021 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. trusted tire orange ca

    https://aurki.com/jarioa/redirect?id_feed=510&url=https://192.99.8.166/article/arts-et-spectacles/cinema/dwayne-johnson-est-l-infiltrateur

    June 1, 2021 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Gmc Luxury Van Repair Shop Near Me

    http://f001.sublimestore.jp/trace.php?pr=default&aid=1&drf=13&bn=1&rd=http://clintbakerphotography.com/finally-a-photo/

    June 1, 2021 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. rv plumbing leak

    This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!

    /

    June 1, 2021 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. مدیر بیمه

    Everyone loves what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the wonderful works guys I've added you guys to my blogroll.

    June 1, 2021 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Ava Roley

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It's always helpful to read through content from other writers and use something from their sites.

    http://dol.deliver.ifeng.com/c?z=ifeng&la=0&si=2&cg=1&c=1&ci=2&or=7549&l=28704&bg=28703&b=37275&u=https://setho92u1.amoblog.com/the-smart-trick-of-truck-services-that-no-one-is-discussing-22330145

    June 1, 2021 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Floyd Cration

    http://s5.histats.com/stats/r.php?1484558&100&34851&urlr=&simone96v5.uzblog.net/digital-marketing-agencies-for-dummies-15188140

    June 1, 2021 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Zisseloh

    liquid cialis blue bottle how much cialis can you take supreme suppliers cialis

    June 1, 2021 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. MileSwa

    generic cialis where can i buy cialis online in australia cialis pay with paypal

    June 1, 2021 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. truck shop of orange

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the most useful websites online. I most certainly will recommend this blog!

    https://www.neoromance.info/link/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=26&url=https://www.web-movimento.it/viewtopic.php?id=53319

    June 1, 2021 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. trailer repair shops near me

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Take care! Where are your contact details though?

    https://www.greenreport.it/ads/www/delivery/ck.php?ct=1&oaparams=2__bannerid=41__zoneid=3__cb=4229ad2336__oadest=https://informationsystem.in/profile/WilliamsBu/

    June 1, 2021 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. camper fiberglass repair

    Having read this I thought it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    http://georgewbushlibrary.smu.edu/exit.aspx?url=http://hootnholler.net/kelsey-obsession/

    June 1, 2021 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. nearest trailer repair shop

    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reauthorization/reauexit.cfm?link=https://www.hootnholler.net/uw-health-launches-new-program-to-support-young-cancer-patients-wkow/

    June 1, 2021 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. camper repair center

    http://www.etracker.com/lnkcnt.php?et=qPKGYV&url=https://ytmax.com/articles/120490/how-to-carry-out-study-and-find-the-greatest-camper-trailer-repair-near-me/

    June 2, 2021 at 03:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. orang shops

    It’s nearly impossible to find experienced people in this particular topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    http://georgewbushlibrary.smu.edu/exit.aspx?url=http://bindannmalveg.de/en/vegan-voices-norway-emma/

    June 2, 2021 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Aleen Parker

    http://redirects.tradedoubler.com/utm/td_redirect.php?td_keep_old_utm_value=1&url=https://rafaelt04x2.verybigblog.com/4086735/rv-body-shop-can-be-fun-for-anyone

    June 2, 2021 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Zisseloh

    viragecialis how to enhance cialis effect viagra or cialis which is better

    June 2, 2021 at 04:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Mercedes Luxury Van Repair

    /

    June 2, 2021 at 05:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. CrulkAsd

    cialis superactive how can i get cheaper cialis cialis for sell

    June 2, 2021 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Miki Lenze

    https://rspcb.safety.fhwa.dot.gov/pageRedirect.aspx?RedirectedURL=https://elliottc58k7.blogdomago.com/4087559/rv-body-shop-for-dummies

    June 2, 2021 at 07:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. xvideos store

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It is the little changes that produce the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    http://www.marcellusmatters.psu.edu/?URL=hootnholler.net/rv-alignment-near-me/

    June 2, 2021 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Company Van Repair

    /

    June 2, 2021 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. SEO Marketing Consultants

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to return yet again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.

    http://www.ref.webhostinghub.com/scripts/click.php?ref_id=nichol54&desturl=https://bjsnearme.com

    June 2, 2021 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. rv entertainment system

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you ought to write more about this subject, it may not be a taboo matter but generally people don't discuss these issues. To the next! All the best!!

    http://fishbiz.seagrant.uaf.edu/click-thru.html?url=http://technopole-sousse.rnrt.tn/forum/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=473226

    June 2, 2021 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. houston junk car buyer

    Shop around for a couple of options in your region, but don’t venture too far.

    Make some extent of shopping around. Considered one of the largest advantages of promoting to a junk car buyer is the promise
    of fast cash in your vehicle. If you’re in an space with multiple junkyards nearby, make the most of the chance to meet
    with different patrons and find one of the best
    deal. Don’t simply take the first offer that comes your method because you would possibly be able to get a
    better offer someplace else. But not all junkyards are the same.
    It is likely that some locations will be more keen to provide you with an excellent value
    than others. Junk automotive consumers wish to know they’re coping with someone prepared and sincere.
    You may be able to get a quote more quickly if you'll be able
    to provide the VIN number when you’re speaking with a purchaser or filling out a kind on their web site.

    June 3, 2021 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Dee Gagliardo

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these Second Life articles and blogs

    http://lostbiro.com/blog/?p=897

    June 3, 2021 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. oc rv storage

    http://dir.tetsumania.net/search/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=3267&url=ocrvparts.com

    June 3, 2021 at 03:19 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Leave a Reply to quinine


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Next entry »
Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.