Bad Body Odor May Be Caused by Metabolic
FRIDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- One-third of people with
unexplained body odor may actually have an inherited metabolic
disorder, a new study finds.
This disorder that impairs their ability to metabolize a
compound -- produced naturally from many foods -- that has a foul,
The hereditary disorder is called trimethylaminuria (TMAU), a
disease that impairs the ability of an enzyme to metabolize or
transform the compound trimethylamine (TMA).
Although the compound generally has an off-putting fishy smell,
at lower concentrations, the odor of TMA may be perceived as
unpleasant or "garbage-like," according to the researchers at the
Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.
Production of TMA is associated with foods rich in choline, such
as organ meats, eggs, certain legumes and saltwater fish. Excess
TMA is excreted from the body in sweat, breath, saliva and
This study of 353 people with unexplained body odor problems
found that 118 (33 percent) of them had TMAU.
Odor associated with TMAU can affect social and work
relationships and cause psychological distress. Once TMAU is
diagnosed, body odor can be controlled through changes in diet and
other methods, the Monell researchers said.
The study appears online in
The American Journal of Medicine.
The U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute has more about
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