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March 7, 1964


JAMA. 1964;187(10):768-769. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060230096026

The adult axilla has an acrid, pungent odor which is peculiar to and distinctive of the human animal. This unique fragrance can be traced to the apocrine sweat glands, which have all but disappeared in the human, surviving only in a few limited areas such as the axilla, genitoinguinal region and the nipple. Although the apocrine gland is not a scent gland in the usual sense, its sweat becomes odorous by the decomposing action of resident skin bacteria, and only by gram-positive ones at that. No value can be attached to the odor, or for that matter to the function of the glands themselves, which indeed have been entirely supplanted by the exocrine sweat glands.

Possibly for reasons of delicacy, no one seems to have asked whether the pubic area, rich in apocrine glands, possesses the characteristic bouquet of the axilla. In fact, other than ascertaining the presence of such

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