When we think of what causes body odor, typically things like not bathing or dirty come to mind. Perhaps diet, weight and lifestyle habits might be taken into consideration as well. Whatever the reason, one thing that we almost never associate with body odor is that you just might be born with it.
According to recent studies, scientist claim to have found what they are calling the body odor gene, or aptly named ABCC11. This is a gene that certain people have which seems to have an effect on our apocrine sweat glands. If you’re unfamiliar, apocrine sweat glands are located primarily under the arms and produce a think, protein filled sweat which is different from more salinated cooling sweat. Apocrine sweat affects body odor in two ways. First, it contains acids and other organic compounds that smell. Second, bacteria feed on the proteins it contains and release odor compounds as waste. People who have the ABCC11 gene show a marked decreased production in both apocrine sweat material as well as sweat itself. This essentially means that they are far less prone to body odor than those who don’t have the gene.
According to their research, they estimate that only 2% of the population have ABCC11. One of the main ways it can be identified is by ear wax consistency… yes, you read that right. They noted that people who posses ABCC11 also have dry ear wax. In contrast those who do not tend to have wetter ear wax. This is not by coincidence either. The gene is shown to control both ear wax and apocrine sweat gland activity so there is verifiable data which establishes the relationship.
None of this is to say that people with the body odor gene do not smell. They are prone to other sources of body odor such as from food, illness, etc.. but when it comes to sweat odor, they are one of the lucky few who really don’t need to concern themselves at all with this issue.