Budgets

Taxpayer-funded study asked if people could smell 'asparagus pee'

A taxpayer-funded study set to find out if people can smell their own "asparagus pee."

Researchers at Harvard on two active studies that received over $3 million last year surveyed nearly 7,000 people to determine if their urine smelled funny after eating the vegetable. The results were published in the BMJ scientific journal, which uses its final edition each year to publish articles that are "quirky, amusing, and creative—but all scientifically sound."

The results concluded a "large proportion of individuals of European-American descent cannot smell ‘asparagus pee'—the unpleasant odor present in urine after people eat asparagus," according to the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"To learn more about who can smell asparagus pee and who can't, Harvard Chan researchers surveyed 6,909 men and women of European-American descent participating in two long-term studies," the school said. "They found that 58 [percent] of men and 62 [percent] of women were unable to smell the urinary metabolites produced after asparagus consumption. Those metabolites, the authors said, create ‘a rather malodorous bouquet.'"

The researchers said they have much to learn about the odor of urine.

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