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Weekend Checkup: Cure for Mystery Body Odor, Tiny Strokes May Cause Shuffling

Couple Brushing Teeth

WHAT'S THAT SMELL? People who bathe regularly, use deodorant, brush their teeth, yet still have bad-smelling body or breath odor  may have a rare, but treatable genetic disorder.

It's called  trimethylaminuria, and according to a story in the  Washington Post, it can be treated through dietary changes and sometimes through the use of antibiotics.

New research by the  Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found that a simple test can detect this disorder. People with this condition lack an enzyme to properly metabolize trimethylamine, a substance found in many common foods. It's what gives fish a fishy odor, for example.

Most people's bodies have the digestive enzyme to break down trimethylamine and excrete it in the urine. But for those without the proper enzyme, the trimethylamine remains in the body and causes people to exude a fishy smell.

Once diagnosed with the condition, people can reduce its symptoms by avoiding certain foods, including milk from wheat-fed cows, eggs, liver, kidney, peas, beans, soy products, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, seafood and ocean fish (freshwater fish have lower levels). Low doses of antibiotics are also sometimes prescribed.

For more information about how to be tested for trimethylaminuria, email the Monell Center's Dr. George Preti at



A shuffling gait, balance problems and hand tremors are often dismissed as a normal part of aging, but new research shows they could actually be caused by microscopic strokes that don't show up on standard imaging tests.

Scientists who examined the brains of 418 priests and nuns after they died found tiny blood vessel blockages in one-third of the brains and larger blockages in 36 percent. A stroke is defined as an interruption in the blood supply to the brain.

These blocked arteries are often undetectable with standard CT or MRI scans, but the people whose brains had them were likely to have had walking, balance and other  movement problems. These symptoms are often considered a typical part of growing old, but they may actually indicate damage to brain tissue, the researchers said.

More aggressive prevention and treatment might help decrease these problems, the researchers wrote. Comparing the changes in a person's brain MRIs over time might also yield clues as to when problems arise.

The study results were published online in the journal Stroke.

Photo credit: Top photo; bottom photo  Ashraful Kadir via

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