Does ABCC11 Influence My Body Odor?

By Gene Heritage

Let’s face it: from time to time, we all sniff our very own armpits to take a whiff of our axillary odor. Sometimes our underarms pass the smell test; other times we recoil in shock. Is there a genetic component to armpit odor? The answer is yes. But before you run out to Costco to buy deodorant in bulk, put yourself at ease by reading the rest of this blog.

Located on chromosome 16 is a gene called ABCC11 that influences armpit odor. People with the “Wet” allele of ABCC11 tend to produce more body odor than those with only “Dry” alleles. The “Dry” allele is much more prevalent in Asia — it’s most common in Korea, China, Mongolia, and western Japan.

The “Wet” allele, on the other hand, is most common in African and European populations. While people with African or European ancestry may be predisposed to more body odor than East Asians, ABCC11’s influence on armpit odor is only minor. The ABCC11 gene actually has a much more direct and major influence on your earwax type.

Many non-genetic factors influence armpit odor in addition to your genes, especially personal hygiene. Gender, disease, stress, and diet may also influence your axillary odor. So before you go on your next date or job interview, please don’t overthink ABCC11’s influence. You probably smell just fine.