Science explains why some people smell worse than others despite keeping themselves squeaky clean.
The body is crawling with microbes that have evolved with the person, depending on the innate metabolism, history of infections, microbiome swaps, diet and lifestyle.
The body's ecosystem of microorganisms can increase the risk for dangerous diseases for which we have unreserved levels of sympathy. It can also lead to unlikable conditions such as unpredictable and embarrassing outbursts of odor emitting through the pores - odor so bad it ruins social lives and careers.
There is no cure for conditions responsible for odorous microbiomes. A rare disease TMAU (Trimethylaminuria) - an inborn error of choline metabolism that leads to the excessive excretion of foul-smelling trimethylamine (TMA) in the sweat and breath - can sometimes be managed by unhealthy diet very low in choline. A purely-microbiome-caused case of armpit odor may be fixed by microbial transplantation. But research is still in its early stages and is mostly unfunded.
Our community-led clinical trial was the first study attempting to find what is in common among individuals suffering from odor unexplained by known medical conditions such as TMAU.
We have demonstrated that symptoms described by participants are real - as they correlate with a number of laboratory tests. We have also proposed that there are at least two groups of participants with different genetics/medical histories (hence different microbiomes) that may require different types of treatments.
Unfortunately publishing these results is very difficult - with no funding to cover publication fees and no "sex appeal" to get support from peers. (The article was submitted to the Journal of Participatory Medicine in February, but peer-reviewers still have not returned their reviews)
The preprint is now available at bioRxiv and raw results at Mendeley. Study results will be also available on the clinical trials site.
We hope that the scientific community will look into our findings and support the underserved by their attention. Any comments or suggestions would be of great help!
Irene S. Gabashvili (2017). Community-led research discovers links between elusive symptoms and clinical tests BiorXiv DOI: 10.1101/139014
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