Genetics may explain some people's dislike of meat

Do you pass when it comes to pork? If you do, the reason you dont like the taste of bacon or ham may lie in your genes.

According to a new study from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., researchers have discovered that about 70 percent of people have two functional copies of a gene called OR7D4. The gene is linked to an odor receptor that detects a compound called androstenone a chemical in male mammals, most commonly in pork.

People who have only one or no functional copies of OR7D4 dont mind the scent of pork; those with two copies, however, turned their nose up at the smell.

Even though we found this gene, we didnt expect to see such strong food preference, said Hiroaki Matsunami, a Duke associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology and one of the lead researchers for the study. With any food if its meat or bread or fruit you find hundreds of volatile chemicals, and this gene only interacts with one of these hundreds of chemicals.

But we found this nice, surprisingly clear answer to this, showing this OR7D4 would explain or predict how you like the meat.

For the study, researchers added different amounts of androstenone to existing pork meat samples, then asked 23 participants rate the meat based on the smell and whether or not they liked the taste.

After each rating, DNA samples were collected from the participants to determine the genotype of their OR7D4 gene. Every single person sensitive to the androstenone had the RT/RT genotype or two copies of the RT gene.

According to Matsunami said this gene could be responsible for certain peoples aversion to other kinds of meat as well.

The male pork meat contains relatively high levels of androstenone, but you can also find it in other types of meat, said Matsunami. In fact, androstenone is also found in human sweat, so its not a pig specific chemical.

Androstenone is a well known pheromone created during the mating process in pigs, giving much more significance to Matsunamis findings. Currently both Europe and the U.S. only sell pork from females or castrated males, meaning the meat contains very low levels of androstenone. In non-castrated pigs, the androstenone levels are over 30 times as much

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Genetics may explain some people's dislike of meat

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