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How do other people's scents affect us?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Humans have all kinds of animal instincts (and stinks) we prefer to ignore or suppress -- and smell is certainly one of them. In North America alone, we spend about $2.5 billion on deodorants and antiperspirants every year.

Even in our sweat-suppressed, nose-weakened state, humans produce and respond to pheromones -- aromatic hormones secreted by the body that stimulate certain behaviors. Men's sweat smell raises women's cortisol levels, which is interesting because cortisol is a "fight or flight" hormone. Women who live together seemingly synchronize their menstrual periods through smell cues. Human sexual behavior and fertility also seem influenced by particular scents.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.