As people get older they begin to naturally have bad body odor, says science


For years, we have been wondering why old people have such a musky smell. Every time you set foot in the home of an old(er) person, for example your grandmother or grandfather, it is likely you came across a distinct smell (which, depending on who you are, may be a good or bad smell). Well, guess what? It is not all in your head, according to science.

Dr. Eric Shapira, a Gerontologist and author of ‘A New Wrinkle: What I Learned from Older People Who Never Acted Their Age’, stated that it is difficult to pinpoint the main reason for the smell. However, he did went on to say that the whole thing is a process of what happens to the body as we get older. This make sense because a child usually doesn’t have a strong body odor, but you’ll begin to notice changes as they get older.

Studies have shown that the body chemistry changes from within as we get older, which produces a certain scent. The smell varies, but at the end of the day, still very noticeable. Interestingly enough, the study shows that a middle-aged man smells the worst when compared to a middle-age woman. Basically, women smell better than men, which is no surprise since us men are dirty hags and women are like skittles… taste the rainbow. (Get your mind out of the gutter, I’m just trying to be funny.)

Things begin to get weird when the study shows that when men hit the sweet age of 80, we’ll begin to smell like women. OK, that’s as far as I go with this article, go read more about it at the via link.

[via plosone]

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  • Cat Tilley

    This is a BS article & so was the linked research. It’s a known fact that some drugs will produce body odors, so will alcohol consumption, other than that, odors can come from the homes of which they live, if they live with pets & are they allowed outdoors to do their business, or is the litter box changed?

    Certain foods, like onions & garlic will certainly come through the pores of the skin.

    Given that we have proper hygiene, including clean clothing, how can we smell the difference between a man & woman? One exception to the rule is women’s hair, if clean, it does have a unique sweet smell.

    On the other hand, if females are having their monthly period, that can be smelled on heavy flow days (frequent changing of pads will help), so can the smell of having sex if not bathed promptly. Those who let their toe nails grow long can develop “toe cheese”, which is a stinker regardless of age or sex.

    Proper hygiene is a must for all, are we all will stink. Deodorant with anti-perspirant is a must for those who sweats heavily under the armpits. BTW, who buries their head there anyway? Freaks?

    However, one doesn’t need a 10 million grant to figure these things out, these are common sense things.

    More government money wasted.


  • Becky

    Since I am blessed to have seven close relatives who are older than 90 and even more who are older than 60 I have some experience with this.
    The study is hogwash. Doesn’t account for so many variables it’s silly.
    So let me make some observations from my considerable experience.
    Around age 60, my husband’s pits stopped stinking like a billy goat–I took this to mean his hormones had waned so began looking for ways to activate or get more glutathione into his system. I doubt the odor will recur but there was a significant change in lack of flaccidity when I introduced him to colostrum. Miracle stuff.
    In all the old people and old smells the common denominator has to do with personal hygiene and frequency of laundry services–this includes bladder and bowel incontinence. Of course, the smokers always stink whether they’re young or old.
    I know no persons over 80 who bathe or shower on a daily basis. To hard/dangerous to get in and out of the facilities and if they’re continent, they simply don’t exert enough to sweat. Those who are bathed by attendants have their privates bathed often when the diapers are changed; their pits and other crevices apparently don’t harbor bacteria the same way they do with active folks who perspire.
    Since old people know this, the only time they do laundry on their outer garments is when they dribble. All of them I know change their panties/shorts daily or more.
    None of the sponge-bath oldies stink and rarely do they have the old musty smell. For those who do, it’s just a non-bath day or the clothes went one (or more) wearing too long.
    These people don’t move and when they do it’s with great efficiency; they don’t perspire unless they’re ill. Perspiration and bacteria are what produce most body odor. The article did say that but the authors appear to have no idea how old people live or get clean.
    My comments are culturally accurate for white, working-class (former farmers) old people in central to north USA. I suspect old people odor varies significantly with culture and traditional diet as well as the climate.

  • jayesstee

    [@etim] You got it in one!  Anything to do with “global warming” used to be worth an automatic grant.  Now they (the would-be researchers) are going back to the “obscure”, the “absurd” and the “bleeding obvious” categories”

  • etim

    Duh. Of course people have different odors at different stages of life. Why do they think babies and puppies smell differently?
    Some folks will research anything just to get their degree/grant money.

  • Seamus McSeamus

    My wife’s grandmother is still kickin’ strong at 92, and I’ve never detected any smells from her.

  • PooToo

    I agree, something just doesn’t smell right about this story….I smell a rat….or wait, Grandma hello!

  • JonE

    Not sure why this article is noteworthy; personnally I consider this BS research. Now if this was an article about how Seasoned Citizens could counteract what this research concludes then it would be noteworthy.

    But, as it is I consider it BS science. Does this research take into account a Seansoned Citizens diet and activity level and perhaps other variables? I doubt it, but then the article doesn’t mention that.

    Just remember, assuming we live that long, we will all become Seasoned Citizens eventually, and then I’m sure how you think about these kinds of things will change your outlook considerably.