Fun fact of the week: there are two types of earwax and you probably already know which type you have.
Wet earwax is usually brown and sticky, while dry earwax is scaly.
The genotype for wet earwax is completely dominant over dry earwax, meaning that even having a single copy of the wet earwax will lock you in for wet earwax.
Interestingly, while almost all ethnically African and European populations have the wet type, East Asians mostly have dry earwax. Between 5% to 15% of East Asians have the wet type.
But why do we even care about earwax?
It turns out that the same gene that determines your earwax type is also involved in the manifestation of a condition called axillary osmidrosis (AO).
People who have AO feel uncomfortable with their own axillary, ie. armpit, odor (which produces a pheromone-like effect to attract the opposite sex). In a 2009 genotyping study involving 79 Japanese participants, this relationship between axillary odor and earwax (specifically having the wet earwax type) was investigated. Here, they found that an overwhelming majority (98.7%) of those who experience AO has the wet earwax genotype of the ABCC11 gene.
Although much of the biological mechanism underpinning AO is unknown and the study is limited to a small sample of participants from only two prefectures in Japan, the finding suggests that earwax genotype is a very good means of diagnosing the condition.
Having said this, the investigators noticed that at least one person in their study who did not have the wet earwax genotype reportedly has AO, which suggests that the genotype is extremely important, but there may be some other factors that will modify a person's perception of their odor. Check out the full study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19650936
Ready to find out what your earwax type is telling you about how you perceive your axillary odor? Go on Genomelink now!