‘Old People’s Odor’ Exists, but Not Unpleasant
Researchers at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found that people could distinguish among the body odors of different age groups.
They asked 41 people to evaluate odors collected from the armpits of study participants from three different age groups – people between the ages of 20 and 30; between 45 and 55; and between 75 and 95.
The evaluators rated the odors from the younger groups as more unpleasant than the odors from the elderly participants, and they also found that the older people’s odors were less intense. The evaluators could also determine that odors came from old people, but could not correctly attribute the odors from the other groups.
These findings, said co-author Johan Lundstrom, confirm the popular belief of an “old people smell.”
“We do have an old people odor, but when taken out of the popular context, it doesn’t smell as bad,” said Lundstrom.
The study also found that younger men smelled worse than younger women, but among the participants older than 75, men and women smelled pretty much the same.
It’s not clear exactly what’s behind the ability to discriminate between the age groups and the sexes, the authors wrote.
“An older study found that there is one chemical that varies with age, but we don’t know if that’s the chemical people are picking out,” Lundstrom said.
It’s also possible that the loss of testosterone, changes in the skin, changes in the sweat glands or a combination of these factors play a role in why the sexes don’t smell much different at older ages.
There may be an advantage to being able to discern the smell of old age among animals.
For example, the authors wrote, “older male insects have a higher reproductive success than their younger competitors,” and “reproductive success is a highly sought-after trait.”
The authors also believe it’s likely that had the evaluators been aware that the odors came from elderly people, they may have rated them as more unpleasant. [Hmm]
Future research, they continued, will focus on identifying the mechanism behind age-related body odor discrimination.
- Smells Like Old Spirit (news.sciencemag.org)
- Old People Smell Different, Not Worse (wnyc.org)
- Scents and Senescence: “Old Person Smell” Is Real, but Not Necessarily Offensive (scientificamerican.com)
- Smells like teen spirit? Age may come with a distinct scent – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
I’ve been thinking about what to with this blog.
I’ve enjoyed playing the manic blogger. I can write all day. And I really mean all day long. 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM with a few breaks, of course; and
dozens hundreds of misspellings a day, filled with puns, and song lyrics, and literary references, a boyhood memories, and political opinions, and more. I didn’t know I could do it but I”m AM doing it!
But I’m also learned a bit about limits. The inner cost of my mania is exciting, exhausting, unnerving, disturbing,… humbling. Yes, humbling. I am humbled by power of the words. Not my words; the power of word making itself. I don’t want that much power. I have always, since my teens, thought that the story of Ferdinand the Bull was my totem. I was athletically strong and fast. But I wanted the flowers. I could move your furniture in the morning, and write you a poem in the afternoon, and make love to you all night. There I go, doing it right now!
But I am an old bull now! In the nighttime, my wife and I sleep all cuddled up in an Norman Rockwell painting so cloying you could [קלויינג] plotz! But we’ve earned it.
Another thing that writing does to me, and I feeling it right now, is how much it overstimulates me. Describing this experience more? Isn’t this enough? Can’t I modulate? I’ve been broadcasting mega-decibels. Gigawatts! See!!! I can hardly stop. That’s my assignment.
For today, It is enough.
And, lest you forget:
—– —– —–
My aphasic friend, REDOABLE, advises me to indicate the length of time in each post. This one started in 9:57 AM. Its now 11:55.08 AM. I’m taking another nap.
- The Elements of a Great Pop Song (gearslutz.com)
- Obscure Song Typography – This Scribbling Lyrics Tumblr Pairs Words with Appropriate Typefaces (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- What The Hell Are They Thinking at FRESHLY PRESSED? # (evelyngarone.wordpress.com)
- Change, Permanence, Security (rudyelijah.wordpress.com)
- A schedule of sorts…. (lechatmysterieux.wordpress.com)
- Norman Rockwell exhibit opens in Texas (scoutingmagazine.org)