|MadSci Network: General Biology|
Dear Colin, Having searched through the usual medical databases and on science databases on the internet, I can't find any reports on a partner's pheromones causing allergy. That's not to say that there isn't such a theory, and it could be possible, but there doesn't seem to be any scientific evidence for it. There is however an interesting theory on the role of pheromones in mate selection and genetic diversity. In 1995, a Swiss group of scientists reported one particular group of genes called MHC (this stands for Major Histocompatibility Complex) appear to be involved in the attractiveness of men to particular women. Women found that the smell of t-shirts worn by men whose MHC genes were highly dissimilar to their own was more attractive than the t-shirts worn by men with similar MHC genes. As genetic diversity and in particular MHC gene differences between couples produces healthier offspring, this suggests that we are innately attracted to people with whom we would produce the most viable offspring. Interestingly, women on the pill were more attracted to the smell of t-shirts worn by men who were more genetically similar to their own MHC genes.
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