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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Do People Over 40 Smell?

Written by PETA | July 23, 2008

waterlife / CC
clown fish

Ever noticed that some old people smell funky? Notice that I said “some.” A New Scientist article released last week reports that the “funky old person” smell is a myth unless the over-40-something eats a fair amount of “seafood“—because of the long time accumulation of the unsaturated fatty acids contained in fish. Seems you are what you eat, so to speak, and consuming little fleshy fishy bits might make you smell a bit more like a not-so-fresh catch than a bed of roses.

This all came into question when a team of researchers in Japan (where almost everything but drinking water is prepared with fish) found a volatile chemical from perspiration on clothes worn by older participants in a sleep study. When U.S. researchers did a separate exercise study that didn’t use chronic fish-eaters, they did not come across this same compound. Analyzing both sets of data, researchers found that older study participants’ sweat had more “stinky smell”—from metabolizing excess unsaturated fatty acids from the fish—than younger participants’ sweat did.

To put it succinctly: Please don’t eat fish, lest you grow up to be a smelly old person. (And if you do become such a person, please refrain from working out on the elliptical next to mine—you know who you are!)

So if you can’t be motivated out of compassion for the sea animals who suffer immensely as they are hauled up from their aquatic homes to decompress or “drown” in the open air, please give up fish for the sake of the assisted living staff who will have to scrub your body some years from now.

Please, the fish—and the sponge-bathers—are counting on you!

Posted by Sean Conner

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  • Laura says:

    Are you saying that Will Smith, Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, Keanu Reeves etc. etc. are old?

  • John Leonardo says:

    I have to admit as a young person back in the early 60′s I did notice that the older people like say in their 60′s + did to me at least at that time seem to have what I used to think in my mind as oh that is an old people smell. Maybe as a kid and not having smoked ciggs I was sensitive to most any scents. I really don’t know but I do remember that old people to me in my pre teens and teens did have a particular smell about them.

  • Janet says:

    I can’t thank all of you enough for a good laugh. I think my favorite comment was Jane’s. I know a woman who had a skunk made into a hat like the old raccoon hats only the tail stood straight up but I don’t think she actually ate it. As for the topic of age and odor I think you smell like the things you eat at any age. Broccoli flatulence smells just as bad coming from the tail pipe of a youngster as it does coming from grandpa Moses.

  • Donald Brandt says:

    The heat of the moment seems past from the July firestorm of comments but Dr.CC here in Arkansas it’s a bumper crop from tree nuts. I’d appreciate the daily nut diet for proper maintenence.

  • AAron says:

    Well now… I’m an old person and smell just FINE. I eat every kind of animal that I come across with the exception of humans. Just last weekend I killed me a skunk that kept raiding my back yard bird feeders so I decided to try it. So I skinned then boiled off the fat and cooked it till it was brown. I seasoned it with some salt pepper and garlic I ate it and over the next few days I did not smell any different that I normally smell even though it was a skunk. I would have thought that it might make me sort of musky smelling but it did not. Aaron

  • Jane says:

    Damn…. 50 is considered OLD??

  • rina says:

    OMG it is so funny. It’s like a baby would be offende by being called “a baby”. Or a teenager will take a defense being called “A teenager” etc. Over 40 SO WHAT? Over 50 60 70 SO WHAT? being aged is completely natural process like breathing smiling as natural as life or death… Regarding animal eating issue first of all life in all forms is existing bc food animals eat other animals fish eat other fish birds eat worms or some other birds. Plants are relatively innocent but not people we eat plant which are alive btw. If we will cherish cows we will probably call our planet Cow planet. Did you ever hear of geese problem in some cities causing major problems? people die in accidents due to overpopulation of geese. Animal love is substituting human love. Remember Jesus? he blesses fish to eat he jelped fisherman to catch the fish my gosh nothing is wrong to eat fish WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Just watch for mercury hazard and stay away from fish fingers you understand. Regarding “old people odor” don’t know would like to learn mtself but I know a lady who is 49 and she is not a vegeterian but eats some fish and chiken twice a month maybe and eats a lot of fruit and veggies and sge does smell rather her house…So who knows.

  • Jenny says:

    I’m a vegetarian but am offended. I agree with Dr. cochran that the tuitle is crass and promotes a ageism. Just what Peta needs more controversy having nothing to do with protecting animals but being prejudiced of people over 40. Listen it’s going to happen to every one of you unless you die first so don’t think because you are under 30 you belong to some exclusive club! I smell better than the trash eating younger people at my workplace for sure. They may learn one day but as of now eat disgusting fried meat fish junk food everything bad no vegetables because they think they will live forever. I like many of them try not to preach but they have no idea how bad it is for them the animals killed for their meat preferences.

  • S.Q. says:

    Thank you Maya No I don’t think all animal rights activists are mean spirited. Although I’m more of an animal welfare girl. It matches my beliefs on animal treatment. I just like to go on PETA’s website to learn what’s going on in our big wide world and perhaps set a few people straight. LOL. It’s good to see more attention being put on animals always is good. I just don’t like it when certian people feel they have the right to jeer at others just because of conflicting views. For every AR activist who insults someone the credibility of animal rights slowly goes down.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Anyone who is upset that older people are being dissed read the blog again. It states that the “New Scientist article released last week reports that the “funky old person” smell is a MYTH!!!”

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Hi SQ Well said. Walk into any animal shelter vet clinic or wildlife rehab center and you will see that people who care about animals are overwhelmingly kind and respecful. PETA is a very strongly opinionated organization so you are going to see all sorts of behavior here. However if you ever had a chance to speak to PETA staff in person you would know as I do that they are the same way incredibly kind respectful creative and intelligent. Sadly their less controversial campaigns hardly get any attention or money so they turn to more controversial stuff. The onus is partly on them partly on us as a society. But again don’t judge all animal activists by what you see here. Find a wildlife rehab center or shelter and although there are always some bad apples you’d be pleasantly surprised. Thanks for listening to me rant LOL

  • S.Q. says:

    I don’t see why everyone has to gang up on Mr. Cohran. What is he doing besides stating his own opinion just as everyone else is? Now everyone can have their own viewpoint and think what they want but I believe in respecting eachother’s opinions at the very least. Eating fish may be right or wrong but an opinion is never bad or wrong. It’s just a point of view. You may say you are standing up for animals and god bless you are but don’t you think using names and insults ruins your cause?

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Chris thank you for that great information. Omega 3s have been a real puzzle for me and that explains a lot! For some people verging on vegetarianism who are worried that fish can’t be replaced your knowledge taken with salt LOL will be really helpful. Merci friend.

  • Soliel says:

    Wanted to chime in again here. I posted earlier about how diet can affect bodily odor especially for the elderly and how degrading and what a shame that is…thanks to the meat and dairy and medical establishment. I wanted to say I am over 40. I wasn’t offended by the title of this post because I don’t feel old in anyway nor do I fear I have body odor. However having said that…it was a little bit weird. Over 40 is nothing…you will see! Anyone who has purchased garage sale clothing from young people will see body odor can come from bodies of all ages. Some of the “youthful” clothes I have purchased had this terrible odor…from a younger person. Of course I can get it out…but it was there and there enough. Too much dairy and meat and not enough greensvegetables and fruits make it worse. I think fish does have nutritionaly benefits but there are drawbacks. Fish has a lot of toxins for one…our oceans are being “fished out” and there is a lot of cruelty involved. I can opt out of fish. I get my healthy fats from flax walnuts and incorporate seaweeds in my life and that is enough. I feel extremely well nourished while having the peace of mind I am not involved in killing.

  • Christopher Cochran MD says:

    Maya other than a mild difference in the constituent omega’s and concentration there are no health pertinent contrasts of plant vs. animal omega3′s. In fact the animal based Omega’s all came from nonanimal forms to begin with. Oily fish are a healthy source of good fats good protein and other vitamins and minerals such as Ca PO4 and B12 but fish is definitely not mandatory for a healthy diet. If your friend eats lots of healthy green vegetables with obligatory vitamin supplementation they will eat much healthier than average. Supplementation with vegan forms of omega3′s is also acceptable. If you want to get the same amount of omega3′s you will have to take five or six times the amount of flax oil vs fish oil so concentration is the only issue really. Remember don’t buy your flax preground and keep your flax oil refrigerated. From an evolutionary standpoint our original forms of omegas were from vegetables and from organ meats brains and the like as it is unrealistic that protohumans had any access to oily fish so the whole fish oileat salmon thing is as artificial a construct as a vegan diet but just as a vegan diet very healthy. I would qualify the above information with the obvious detractions of my expertise based on my geography andor genetic ancestry hillbilly redneck etc. Despite years of university and hospital training as well as taking passing and excelling at nationally standardized tests MCAT USMLE ABIM et. al I may be as dumb as a rock simply by living in the Ozarks so you should take all this with a grain of NaCl. All the best.

  • Gina says:

    That’s insulting unnesessary to even bring up at all. Funky smell over 40??? You are risking alienating your already delicate support base myself included. It wouldn’t take much for me to think this Petais going a little off the deep end. I want to like you I want to believe in you. But start in on ageism attitudes and you will lose me many others who are getting fed up with statements like that. Over 40 doesn’t mean we are old we are not on our death beds far from it. Where do you people get these views from lose it or you will lose some good people who want to help you.

  • commonsense says:

    Ok if you do not work in the field of medicine then you need to SHUT THE HELL UP about what is healthy or not for the human body And studies have shown that fish is very healthy and benefitual for the human body. Peta is just trying to use scare tactics.

  • Dangerous and Delicious says:

    It’s true eating animals and animal products do make people smell bad. The further you get away from animal products the more sensitive you are to the smell. Though I don’t think it is religated to the over 40 crowd. As thing get progressivly worse in terms of pollution and abuse it is affecting people at a younger age. Don’t forget most twenty year olds never knew a time when factory farms and all of their grotesque method of operations didn’t exist. Today there seems to be an epidemic of bad breath in NYC. They say it’s the cheese and the eggs. It used to be every great once in a while you would smell someone with that awful smell on their breath. Now it is nearly everyday everywhere and people of all ages. The seafood is also a culprit. with people gobbling it up like there is no tomorrow. Do you know that in Southwest Florida off the coast of Sarasota there is a dead zone the size of the state of Rhode Island. The water so polluted their is no oxygen left. Everything dead. All living organisms. The coral reafs no longer exist there. Please folks bag some beans and go home before it is two late. And MAY GOD PROTECT THE MASKED AVENGERS!

  • donna says:

    Everyone who still eats fish is not vegetarian. Period. It may seem less cruel to some to kill fish but the facts are that all farmed and hunted animals suffer needlessly so that you can eat them.

  • karrie says:

    play nice kids… is over 40 elderly? be aware youngsters 40 will come up on you faster than you would ever think! rotting animal flesh doesn’t smell good outside my body i don’t want that going on inside my body. i hope that all doctors advise their patients about animalfree options to get their nutrition from as well.

  • vegancoin says:

    The are those here that seem to be given only to illogical diatribe and find it necessary to faithfully spew inordinate amounts of bias. i myself find it hard to have any respect for someone who is unable to recognize quality of life issues one for whom practicing compassionate behavior runs a distant second to being a responsible person. This implausible and incompetent speciesist act is downright silly.

  • Michele says:

    I think CC sounds a little defensive maybe he is worried that he smells a little “funky” due to the fish he eats

  • Brad says:

    It doesn’t matter if fish makes you stink or not. Fishing is cruelthat is why you shouldn’t eat seafood. The point is you can receive the same “benefits” of eating fish from crueltyfree sources without the freekin Mercury BTW what is more cruel acknowledging that old people often have a characteristic smell or torturing millions of living and feeling animals?

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Chris I know you’re quite busy with the squabbling but I’m wondering if you can answer a serious question. Because I for one can tell that you are a doctor. Let’s say someone in my family wants to stop eating fish but is worried that flaxseeds don’t have the same benefits omega 3s etc as fish. Can you tell me how fish nutrition is different than flaxseeds if at all? ps I know flaxseeds don’t have vitamin D and that flaxseed oil goes rancid quickly.

  • Christopher Cochran MD says:

    Judy greetings from paradise! I am an internist therefore I am not responsible for the dead I am responsible for the living therefore I encourage them to eat fish. Pathologists are responsible for the dead. I am not a pathologist. Plain English just for you!

  • Tabitha says:

    I actually DO live in a “backwater.” And we LIVE longer here. We have PLENTY of 100+ year olds here with amazing quality of life as in not in nursing homes as in living independently with only minor help from their children. And guess what? WE’RE A FISHING TOWN!

  • Judith says:

    CC How many deaths are you responsible for? I would bet quite a few. How very very sad. The Doctor of death. How nice! Peace for all animals! Most of my heroes wear masks!

  • Christopher Cochran MD says:

    Prejudice? Don’t you mean bias or preference? My bias my preference is to promote health in the elderly which eating fish has been proven to do. And so far as the inappropriate nature of this article what if someone did a study to prove that say AfricanAmericans Hispanics or Subcontinental Indians don’t stink. That seems inappropriate to me but what do I know I live in a “backwater” whatever that is.

  • liliana says:

    Hola Claudia me alegra que hayas visto el documental de HBO ojala mucha gente lo vea y cambie sus habitos y ayuden a los animalitos

  • ratking says:

    cocky cochran cock is rising again slowly smoothly becoming cockier and cockier!

  • Antigone1000 says:

    Listen to CC spout off against ageism while promoting speciesism!! What a hypocriteIf you can pick your prejudice so can the rest of us so get off your soapbox

  • Christopher Cochran MD says:

    To the bigot kelly I will take your comment as an endorsement. If being more than “backwater” entails I must have your elitist attitude then I will happily remain the barbarian you percieve me to be. You are a bigot and if that is civilized I’ll pass. Mike fish oil caps are also free of said toxins as are sardines by in large.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Geez the blog I read stated that the “funky old person” smell is a myth unless the person eats a fair amount of seafood and that’s according to New Scientist not PETA. In other words barring medical conditions older people DON’T stink. You can of course get your omega3 from plant sources and totally bypass the fish. Eat ground flaxseed flaxseed oil walnuts or vegan DHA capsules utilizing marine algae which is where the fish get the omega3 DHA from in the first place. The capsules are also free of mercury dioxins etc.

  • Soliel says:

    Another thought about the “smell” issue even though it was made in jest One very sad thing about the medical establishment in this country is how they don’t promote true health. They have totally abandoned the age old remedy of internal cleansing to heal ourselves and keep ourselves healthy and fresh. Eating meat and dairy increases your chances for bodily odors while eating vegetables and fruits cleanses you. This is because meat and dairy have no fiber whatsoever while plant foods do. Plant foods have chlorophyll which is deoderizing. It so sad that so many are fed lies that leave them without dignity in their elder years without a clue why. It’s such a shame and it’s sickening how basic truths are kept from the public because they want to sell pills and high cost procedures instead of give simple inexpensive ways to keep you healthy and attractive.

  • kelly says:

    Cochran you know as much about medicine as anyone on the street. You advocate eating meat to your patients and advocate higher disease rates to your patient. Your backwater medical degree is a danger to your patients which is why you work where you do.

  • brandie r says:

    and yet another reason not to eat animals. But you know that if you eat garlic true garlic cloves you’ll smell like garlic until the vegetable is excreted from the body. Ok so now do I eat garlic? Or let it be. I don’t eat meat. I’m just saying. And also some people smell whether they eat meat or not. Just FYI.

  • Greg says:

    eat Garlic and join the over 40 crowd

  • Cláud says:

    hello! I’m Brazilian and i live in Cascavel in Paran. I watched that documentary on HBO “I am an animal” this afternoon and the cruelty people do aginst animals really shocked me! I really would like to thank you people from PeTA for fighting against this evil and providing joy and freedom for animals. I’m sure that a piece of Heaven is kept for you! you’re the kindest people in the whole world! I love you guys and I’m sure that every animals in the world do too. I’d like to know if there is PeTA here in Brazil because I’d like to buy your things and I’d really like to participate and help the animals. I’d also like to chat with you a bit because I’d like to share my animal story which is similar to Ingrid’s. Thanks for your attention. I really admire you. P.S. Could you please answer me back on my email or add me on MSN Messenger? Thanks a lot.

  • Phyllis says:

    OUCH! I’m an old person? Guess I’d better get used to it since my vegan diet will only extend my life even farther. OK so is there a senior chapter of PETA for old geezers in their 50s and planning on staying active for animals for at least another 36 years? I do smell though but only with my nose! Thanks for this information. I’m going to send it to a notyet veggie friend who was surprised to learn just last Tuesday night that there was no fish on the menu at the vegan restaurant I talked her into trying. Surprising how many otherwise intelligent people think vegetarians eat fish.

  • Christopher Cochran MD says:

    The “funky old person smell” that this crass article so rudely mentions is usually due geriatric patients having issues with urinary and or fecal incontinence. Hilarious. What’s next? Jokes about breast cancer? Look at that “funky old” woman with one boob!!! Hilarious. People who eat one or more oily fish meal per week have significantly fewer vascular events in their lifetime. People who have had an MI and imbibe either through supplements or diet one gram or more of Omega3 FA’s are up to fifty percent less likely to die if they suffer another MI. Getting a gram of Omega3 FA’s from plant sources is challenging. I encourage all my patients to eat oily fish. Sardines are natures perfect food. Not only is this an obscure reference it is just plain rude. Stick to your original message of veganism without being ageist.

  • Soliel says:

    That is very sad about the fish and it’s sad to smell when you are older. But I’ve got a remedy…lots of fresh greens chlorophyll helps deoderize the whole body from the inside. And a diet in whole natural plant based foods will help as well. It’s a shame so many people were not told the truth about diet and thus suffering in their elder years.