Health tips — May 2014

Why body odor can be a sign of illness, and how to manage stress when making a big presentation.

Dr. Nose

Does someone smell stinky? He or she may need a doctor, not a bath. In a study to determine if we can sniff out sickness, published in Psychological Science, volunteers were injected with a toxin and asked to wear tight T-shirts to absorb their sweat. After injection, these participants produced increased levels of cytokines, a group of immune-system molecules. Later, another group compared the smell of the toxin carriers' T-shirts to those worn by volunteers injected with a saline solution. The toxin group's T-shirts were reported as having a more unpleasant and "unhealthier" smell than the other group's T-shirts.

The finding that we emit an aversive signal after the immune system is activated is important, researchers note. Maybe BO will one day save a life.

Misery hates company

Nervous about making that big presentation? Getting a buddy may help. In a study published by Social Psychology and Personality Science, students were paired up and asked to give a speech. They were encouraged to discuss their feelings about the task beforehand and their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, were measured before, during and after the speeches. The result? Lower cortisol levels and less feelings of stress than before.


About the Author

Yvette Trancoso

Yvette Trancoso is an associate editor at CPA Magazine.


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