Study: ‘Old Person Smell’ Is Real

The distinctive “old person smell” you may have picked up on when visiting your grandparents most likely wasn’t your imagination, a new study indicates.

When given whiffs from pieces of pads worn under the armpits of young, middle-aged and elderly people for five consecutive nights, study participants could reliably distinguish the body odor of the elderly, who were 75 and older, the researchers found.


“The results of this study support the cross-culturally popular concept of an ‘old person odor,'” writes the international team in a study published on May 30 in the journal PLoS ONE. The notion that the elderly have a distinct smell exists in multiple cultures, and usually the odor is said to be unpleasant. But this probably has more to do with negative perceptions of old age, rather than with the odor itself, according to study researcher Johan Lundström, an assistant professor at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

It’s not yet clear why body odor changes as humans age or why humans are able to pick up on these changes. Body odors originate from an interaction between skin gland secretions and bacteria on our skin. As people age, the activity of different types of skin glands changes. This factor may contribute to the perceived change in body odor with age, the researchers write.

So far, scientists can only speculate on why this apparent signal for old age exists. Research in other animals indicates that such an odor may act as a sign of the “good genes” that have allowed a male to live into old age, making him more attractive to females. It’s also possible the distinctive odor is not a direct result of age; for instance, it could be associated with increased inflammation (part of an immune response) within the bodies of the elderly, Lundström said.

Do you agree with this study? Why or why not?

Source: Yahoo News

Image: Time

Researchers Find Unlisted Heavy Metals in Many Cosmetics

In light of recent news that the FDA found lead in 400 brands of lipstick, Yahoo! Shine took a look at other products containing potentially hazardous ingredients. While the levels are much lower, according to a 2011 report by Environmental Defense, an Ontario-based research group, dangerous heavy metals still lurk in lip gloss, mascara, foundation, blush, eye shadow, and eyeliner.

The researchers tested a total of 49 common products selected from the cosmetic bags of six average Canadian women. They found that every product contained at least one of seven heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, beryllium, thallium, and selenium. Lead, a known neurotoxin, showed up in 96% of the items.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that lead exposure is not safe at any level. Heavy metals are considered a by-product of manufacturing and it’s worth noting that none were listed in the ingredients lists on the cosmetics’ labels.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which pushed for the FDA’s recent scrutiny of lipstick, points out that, “Individual exposures to these metals in small amounts are unlikely to cause harm, but heavy metals can build up in the body over time and may increase risk for a variety of health problems.” The U.S. Department of Labor links arsenic to stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate.

The report notes that the highest levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead overall were found in lip gloss, which can be ingested orally.

Source: Yahoo News

Image: Mail Online