Now Apologize to Your Grandmother: "Old People Smell" is a Myth, Study Says

DiscoblogBy Andrew MosemanJul 17, 2008 9:55 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

All right, no more complaining about "old people smell"—according to George Preti, it doesn't exist. Preti, a scent expert at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, became incensed at 2001 Japanese study concluding that the skin of people over 40 produces more chemicals with an unpleasant or greasy odor. Preti, being over 40 himself, set out to disprove that idea. So he and his team asked a set of 25 volunteers to walk up and down the stairs until they got sweaty; then the scientists used funnels to collect the sweat of the subjects' backs. Preti said the sweat of people over 40 had higher concentrations of a few chemicals compared to that of younger people, but the chemicals in question didn't carry a strong smell. And, he said, he found none of the greasy-smelling chemical that the Japanese scientists found. Why the difference in the studies? Fish, Preti says. The seafood-heavy Japanese diet could cause a buildup of unsaturated fatty acids, and other chemicals which would speed the oxidation of those acids. Of course, we won't have to worry about that if seafood disappears, as some scientists predict. Image: iStockphoto

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2023 Kalmbach Media Co.