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Monell Study Shows How Diet Affects Body Malodor Disorder

Posted: September 1, 2011

The Monell Center has released a study that reports around one third of patients who suffer from unexplained body malodor were found to have the metabolic disorder trimethylaminuria (TMAU). Definite diagnosis of TMAU can be helpful because, once identified, symptoms can be quelled through treatments such as diet change. The symptoms of TMAU come from the accumulation of excess trimethylamine (TMA) –and its associated unpleasant odor – which is excreted from bodily fluids and breath.  “Health care professionals must arrive at a correct diagnosis to suggest appropriate treatment,” said study lead author Paul M. Wise, a sensory psychologist at Monell. “This research raises awareness of both the disease and also the proper methods of diagnosis and treatment.” Production of TMA is associated with foods rich in choline. Foods that contain choline include eggs, some legumes, wheat germ, saltwater fish and organ meats, and TMA production and symptoms depend on what foods people have recently consumed, making it possible that it occurs in irregular and seemingly unpredictable occurrences.

In the Monell study, which was published online in The American Journal of Medicine, the authors tested 353 patients who had contacted the Center because of unexplained personal malodor. Testing included an aspect in which a patient would ingest a set amount of choline and then would measure urinary TMA levels over the next 24 hours. In this study, a high level of urinary TMA confirmed a diagnosis of TMAU in 118 of the participants.