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Pheromone Perfume

February 14, 2006

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we explore some modern-day love potions that claim science on their side.


Can a scent make you sexy? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Pheromone perfumes claim to include a natural body chemical that makes you instantly attractive. The women of an Alexandria, Virginia, knitting club asked us if they work. The verdict?

GEORGE PRETI (Monell Chemical Sciences Center):
It’s a lot of baloney.

That’s body odor chemist George Preti of the Monell Chemical Sciences Center. He says while pigs and hamsters produce chemicals that attract mates, humans don’t seem to have pheromones for instant attraction. Perfume companies that claim to have isolated such chemicals from human sweat have little evidence they work.

It might smell OK to you, but it’s not going to guarantee success in the dating game.

If you’re curious about a scientific claim, call us at 1-800-why-isit. If we use your question on the air, you’ll win a Science Update mug. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.