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Genes Might Cause Some to Shun Pork

WEDNESDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Not a big fan of bacon or ham? Your genes might be behind it, a new study finds.

Researchers found that 70 percent of participants had two functional copies of a gene linked to a particular odor receptor in the brain. This cellular receptor is attuned to a compound in male mammals called androstenone, which is also common in pork.

In the study, 23 people were asked to smell pork. Those with either one or no functional copies of the RT gene could tolerate the scent of androstenone much better than those with two copies of the gene -- suggesting a mechanism by which some people find pork more or less appetizing.

The findings appear online May 2 in the PLoS One.

Study author Hiroaki Matsunami, an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University Medical Center, said he wants to do similar research in specific populations, such as people in the Middle East, where eating pork is avoided.

"I would also like to know about odor receptor variants in indigenous populations, such as people who live near the Arctic Circle and who never eat these meats. What is their genotype?" Matsunami said in a Duke news release.

He suggested that vegetarians may have a genetic predisposition against the smell of meat and wondered if meat inspectors with both copies of the RT gene would make different decisions in their jobs.

More information

The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery has more about smell and taste.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Duke University Medical Center, news release, April 30, 2012

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