Smell of Earwax Varies by Ethnicity

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A recent study by researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shows that the smell of people’s earwax varies depending on their genetics and ethnicity.

A recent study by researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shows that the smell of people’s earwax varies depending on their genetics and ethnicity.

The study involved a comparison of the amount of 12 volatile organic compounds in the male subjects’ earwax

In 11 out of 12 cases, there were more of the volatile compounds in the ear wax of Caucasian men than men of East Asian descent who participated in the study.

George Preti, the lead researcher, is quoted as saying: "The difference between the earwax is caused by a single gene in the genome. And a change in that single gene gives you different earwax and different underarm odor."

Not only do people’s ear wax smell different, the appearance and consistency also varies from dry, which is flaky and white, to wet, which is brown and sticky.

Chromosome 16 is responsible for what kind of ear wax people have, and the wet variation is dominant.

One of the researchers says that the study could be the first step towards using the analysis of ear wax to diagnose certain kinds of diseases.

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