Japanese scientists have found that a gene responsible for breast cancer also causes goopy earwax and malodorous armpits (called osmidrosis), according to a report describing this finding featured on the cover of The FASEB Journal‘s June 2009 print issue.
To draw their conclusions, Toshihisa Ishikawa, PhD, professor in the Department of Biomolecular Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, senior researcher involved in the work and colleagues monitored the activities of a protein created by a gene associated with breast cancer, called ABCC11, according to the report.
By studying this gene and its complex cellular and molecular interactions in the body, the researchers discovered a distinct link between the gene and wet, sticky earwax and excessively smelly armpits, the report says. This discovery could lead to practical tools for clinicians—especially those in developing nations—to rapidly identify who may have a higher risk for breast cancer, according to the report.
"As it turns out, the type of ear wax one has is linked to a gene that leads to bad odors from one’s armpit," says said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. "These may become lifesaving clues to the early detection and treatment of breast cancer."
Yu Toyoda, Aki Sakurai, Yasumasa Mitani, Masahiro Nakashima, Koh-ichiro Yoshiura, Hiroshi Nakagawa, Yasuo Sakai, Ikuko Ota, Alexander Lezhava, Yoshihide Hayashizaki, Norio Niikawa, and Toshihisa Ishikawa. Earwax, osmidrosis, and breast cancer: why does one SNP (538G>A) in the human ABC transporter ABCC11 gene determine earwax type? FASEB Journal, 2009 23: 2001-2013.