PHILADELPHIA - While walking into grandma's house, you may be hit with a familiar odor: the mix of mothballs and must. You might even call it "old person smell."
Well, recent research indicates that so-called "old person smell" is a real thing. In fact, most people can identify if a person is elderly just based on catching a whiff of them.
Johan Lundström with the Modell Chemical Sense Center in Philadelphia conducted a study by having blindfolded participants sniff sweat-soaked armpit pads, reported the Scientific American . The volunteers were asked to pick which odor came from an older person or label the samples "young," "middle-aged" or "old-age."
"Our natural body odor goes through several stages of age-dependent changes in chemical composition as we grow older. Similar changes have been reported for several animal species and are thought to facilitate age discrimination of an individual based on body odors, alone," the published study said.
The study found the "old people smell" was the most unique. It was also less intense and less unpleasant. Lundström's findings also noted that middle-aged man have the most intense and unpleasant odor, while the aroma of middle-aged women is the most pleasant.
"I think it's true that old people smell a certain way, but the idea that the smell is negative may largely be social stigma," Lundström told the Scientific American.
The Modell Center is a one-of-kind research facility dedicated to the senses of taste and smell.