If you’ve ever noticed that older people smell differently than younger people, you’re not just discriminating against your elders. Aged individuals actually do have a unique odor, which is caused when chemicals from the skin are broken down into strongly smelling molecules that make their way into the air.
Scientists are not sure exactly which chemical causes old people to smell the way they do, but they suspect that the stench comes from a compound called 2-nonenal. Researchers have found that the concentration of 2-nonenal increases with age.
The chemical isn’t exclusive to the skin glands of old people, as it also is responsible for the “cardboard” flavor in stale beer. As it turns out, people smell worse with age just like beer does!