Contact Us

Science Proves Old People Really Do Smell

old people
Laura May. Flickr

Like most people, we’ve noticed that the elderly have a distinctive, shall we say, fragrance. We’ve always blamed prune juice, but it looks like there is something more to it.

Johan Lundström of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia conducted an experiment in which volunteers of all ages slept in special t-shirts outfitted with cotton swabs in the armpit for five straight days. To make sure only their natural scents were being collected the volunteers were told to avoid spicy foods, nicotine and alcohol during the experiment.

Then another group of volunteers — also of all ages — sniffed the cotton swabs. Lundström found that 20 to 30-year-olds are almost always able to accurately guess if the swab came from somebody between 75 and 95.

The sniffers were also able to determine if a swab came from a young or middle-aged person, but without the same degree of accuracy.

Researchers had previously discovered that certain animals are able to make age distinctions based on smell, suggesting there are evolutionary reasons for this ability.

So how do old people smell? According to Lundström, their odor is very real, but “not necessarily unpleasant.”

So if you see an elderly person, don’t be afraid to take a big whiff.

Best of Q92

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for Q VIP quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive Q VIP contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.