Is ‘old person smell’ real? Yes, but it’s not what you think

the Body Odd on

No matter how much you try to hide your age, you can’t nip-and-tuck your scent away. People will still be able to figure out how old you are simply by taking a sniff.

Researchers have determined that there really is an “old person smell” — and a young person smell and a middle-aged smell — according to a study published Wednesday in PLoS ONE.

“This study shows you can’t fake it,” says study co-author Johan Lundstrom, an assistant professor at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute. “If you walk around a corner, you don’t have to look at someone to know they’re older; you can just sniff them out.”

At a time when we spray, spritz and anxiously try to scrub away and cover up our natural body odor, the new research should be reassuring to our noses. But our paranoia that we turn into pungent, musty moth balls as we age turns out to be completely wrong. Older people, in fact, have less intense — and more pleasant — scents than their younger counterparts, the new research indicates.

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