Human beings could one day be identified by our smells, according to research that shows individual “odourprints” cannot be masked by diet.
Every person has a unique fragrance, similar to a fingerprint or DNA sample, which could be used to create a database of human scents, scientists said.
Eating powerful foods such as chili or garlic may change how we smell, but it does not disguise our underlying genetically-determined aroma, tests on mice have shown. Creatures who were given strong-smelling foods were still recognised by their peers.
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The signature smells may have evolved to help in choosing mates and marking out territories.
Jae Kwak, lead author of the study at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, said that the research suggested that “odourprinting” could soon have a practical use.