The smell of cancer

Preti is an expert on human odors, having studied them for more than 40 years. He has sniffed — both with machines and with his nose — breath, sweat and other secretions in search of answers about why we smell the way we do. This latest project seeks to answer a question others might have never thought to ask: Does ovarian cancer have a smell?

— That's George Preti, of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Read more at What Does Cancer Smell Like? at the New York Times. Hat tip to HemlockSillage!

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7 Comments

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  1. Rappleyea says:

    Sniffing the patient is an integral part of ancient Chinese medicine. What’s old is new!

  2. D.D. Jackson says:

    I think there’s be experimental evidence for a while now that dogs can smell some diseases before they’re diagnosable by usual means. I remember one story of a pet dog — I’m not sure of the exact wording — “showing an insistent interest” in a mole on his/her owner’s back, which turned out to be malignant.

    In any event, I know for sure that some German Shepherds show a clear preference for Le Labo Rose 31 and Oud 27 over Bergamote 22 : )

    Happy Cookie and Bread baking to everyone doing that sort of thing today….

    • Robin says:

      I’ve heard that too, although the article says “The results from the dog tests have been inconclusive”.

      Not baking, do send cookies ;-)

    • Lucy says:

      This absolutely seems possible, if not probable. I know there’s a difference between diseases and hormones, but my cat knew I was pregnant before I did. He was loving, affectionate, and completely attached to me for two months. After I miscarried he went back to glaring at me from across the room.

  3. Nightingale says:

    I have always been able to smell when one of my children has a fever. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but when I mentioned it to a friend of mine she completely validated me and said she can smell fever on her children as well! (Then, after the initial fever, the sickly sweet smell of Children’s Motrin would overtake everything.)

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