Selected Abstracts on the Health Effects of Perfume 

Perfume and Headache

1) Mesothalamic discharge in a chronic pain, allergy and fluid retention syndrome (case report).
2) Symptom and personality profiles of young adults from a college student population with 
self-reported illness from foods and chemicals.
3) Sensitization to early life stress and response to chemical odors in older adults.
4) Precipitating factors in migraine: a retrospective review of 494 patients.
5) Fifty years of migraine research.

Perfume and Asthma and other Respiratory Effects 

6) Placebo-controlled challenges with perfume in patients with asthma-like symptoms.
7) Inhalation challenge effects of perfume scent strips in patients with asthma.
8) Genetic and environmental factors associated with asthma.
9) [Occupational asthma caused by scented gravel in cat litter boxes] 
10) [Air pollution and the prevalence of bronchial asthma among the pediatric population of Moscow] 
11) Effect of odors in asthma.

Perfume and Neurological Effects 

12) [Clinical forms of skin manifestations in allergy to perfume
13) Neurotoxic properties of musk ambrette.
14) Neurotoxic fragrance produces ceroid and myelin disease
15) 90-day dermal toxicity study and neurotoxicity evaluation of nitromusks in the albino rat.
16) Uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation in vitro by the neurotoxic fragrance compound acetyl ethyl tetramethyl tetralin and its putative metabolite.

Perfume and Sensitivity in General 

17) How to instruct patients sensitive to fragrances.
18) Natural ingredients based cosmetics. Content of selected fragrance sensitizers.
19) Allergic contact dermatitis to fragrance: a review.
20) Exposure to selected fragrance materials. A case study of fragrance-mix-positive eczema patients.
21) Allergic contact sensitization potential of hydroxycitronellal in humans.
22) Fragrance sensitivity in coal miners.
23) Immediate and delayed reactions to cosmetic ingredients.

Perfume and Headache

JN- Integr Physiol Behav Sci 30(2):157-68

TI- Mesothalamic discharge in a chronic pain, allergy and fluid retention syndrome (case report).

AU- Andy OJ; Nicholas W; Dearman C;

PY- 1995 Apr-Jun

AB- A 32-year-old woman was bedridden for a year because of chronic pain and headaches. She had insomnia, depression, suicidal thoughts and a severe chemical allergy. She had been on steroid therapy for two years and became Cushingoid with striae in the arm pits, groins and abdomen. However, she had no hypertension, nor the buffalo fat and hirsutism. She was very edematous, with a weight gain from 112 to 180 lbs. The fluid retention did not conform to the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone. Studies revealed abnormal scalp EEG discharges and high-voltage seizure discharges in the posterior thalamus. Electrothalamic stimulation suppressed the thalamic discharges and relieved the patient’s pelvic pain and headaches. After one month of several thalamic stimulations per day, she was able to get out of bed and ambulate. In addition, the patient no longer was edematous and was tolerating perfumes and floor detergents. Steroids were progressively reduced without complications of withdrawal. She went from a completely steroid dependent state to independent during the first 1-1/2 yrs of thalamic stimulation. With continued thalamic stimulation she has done well for 8-1/2 yrs, weighs 112 lbs, keeps house and drives a car. It’s speculated the illness is a chronic pain multiple syndrome predominantly due to mesothalamic discharges and body infirmities. The mesothalamic discharge implicated neural networks, which represent biologic systems, i.e. pain, sleep, fluid retention, etc. Therapeutic stimulation attenuates the discharges and the neural networks return to their normal set points of homeostasis.

SN- 1053-881X

MH- Adult; Case Report; Chronic Disease; Corticotropin (DU); Cortisone (BL); Edema (*PP); Electric Stimulation; Electrodes, Implanted; Electroencephalography; Female; Human; Hypersensitivity (*PP); Pain (*PP); Thalamus (*PP);

AN- 95399323

LA- Eng

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JN- J Am Coll Nutr 12(6):693-702

TI- Symptom and personality profiles of young adults from a college student population with self-reported illness from foods and chemicals.

AU- Bell IR; Schwartz GE; Peterson JM; Amend D;

PY- 1993 Dec

AB- Despite much debate over a presumptively somatic vs psychological etiology of nonatopic food and chemical sensitivities, little systematic research has addressed the issues. The present study investigated self-reported illness from several common foods (wheat, dairy, eggs) and chemicals (pesticide, car exhaust, paint, perfume, new carpet), symptom patterns, and psychological profiles of a sample of young adult college students (n = 490, age 19.4 +/-2.4, 52% female/48% male). Subjects were divided into 4 groups on the basis of sample medians for frequency of illness from the foods (FI) and chemicals (CI); high FI with high CI (FI/CI), high FI alone, high CI alone, and NOILL (low FI and CI). FI was associated with more defensiveness (denial of negativity) while CI was linked with more shyness (avoidance of novelty). Women outnumbered men in all groups (FI/CI: 61%; FI: 80% CI: 55%) except the NOILL (40% women). Nevertheless, the FI/CI, FI, and/or CI groups still had significantly higher total symptom scores as well as more indigestion, headache, and memory trouble than did the NOILL group, even after depression, anxiety, shyness, defensiveness, and gender were covaried. The illness groups reported significantly more limitation of foods that mobilize endogenous opioids or generate exogenous opioids (sweets, fats, bread) as well as more illness from opiate drugs, small amounts of beverage alcohol, and late meals. Nasal symptoms from pollens or animals were more common in the FI/CI (42%) and CI (42%) than in FI (26%) or NOILL (28%) groups. Premenstrual tension syndrome and irritable bowel were also more common in the FI/CI group. The findings indicate that young adults outside the clinical setting who are relatively higher in FI and/or CI have distinctive symptom and psychological patterns. Covariate analyses suggest that important symptoms in FI and CI individuals such as indigestion, headache, and memory problems may occur in addition to rather than as simply part of emotional distress. The data are consistent with a previously hypothesized role of olfactory-limbic and hypothalamic pathways and with a time-dependent sensitization model for illness from foods and chemicals.

SN- 0731-5724

MH- Adolescence; Adult; Anxiety; Defense Mechanisms; Depression; Drug Hypersensitivity (*PX); Female; Food Hypersensitivity (*PX); Human;

Male; Personality (*); Sex Characteristics; Shyness;

AN- 94124864

LA- Eng

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JN- Biol Psychiatry 35(11):857-63

TI- Sensitization to early life stress and response to chemical odors in older adults.

AU- Bell IR; Schwartz GE; Amend D; Peterson JM; Stini WA;

PY- 1994 Jun 1

AB- This study examined the hypothesis that older persons who currently report illness from environmental chemical odors (cacosmia) may have experienced higher levels of stress early in life than did noncacosmic controls. The hypothesis derives from a time-dependent sensitization (TDS) model for cacosmia (Bell et al 1992) that predicts a relative interchangeability of stress and chemicals in inducing and eliciting sensitized responses in vulnerable individuals. Subjects were selected from those in the top 24% (cacosmic) and bottom 27% (noncacosmic) of a sample of 192 older adults (mean age 73.8 years) for self-reported frequency of illness form the odors of pesticide, car exhaust, paint, perfume, and new carpet. As in previous investigations, cacosmics were younger, more depressed, and more shy; cacosmics also included a higher proportion of women (83% versus 61%). As predicted, cacosmics rated themselves higher in stress for the first four decades of their lives, but not the recent past or present, even after controlling for depression, anxiety, hostility, shyness, age, and gender. Cacosmics reported increased prevalence of physician-diagnosed nasal allergies, breast cysts, hypothyroidism, sinusitis, food sensitivities, irritable bowel, and migraine headache. Only 4% of the overall sample (including 9% of the cacosmics) acknowledged the controversial physician diagnosis of "chemical sensitivity." The replicated observation of greater shyness in cacosmics is consistent with the ability of hyperreactivity to novelty to predict enhanced susceptibility to TDS from low levels of pharmacological agents in animals. The findings support a TDS model for cacosmia and suggest that cacosmia as a symptom identifies a large subset of the nonindustrial population with significant psychophysiological health problems that merit further objective examination.

SN- 0006-3223

MH- Aged; Environmental Exposure (*); Female; Human; Hypersensitivity (*PX); Life Change Events (*); Male; Middle Age; Personality Development (*); Risk Factors; Sick Role; Smell (*); Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.;

AN- 94331478

LA- Eng

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JN- Headache 34(4):214-6

TI- Precipitating factors in migraine: a retrospective review of 494 patients.

AU- Robbins L;

PY- 1994 Apr

AB- The predominance of certain triggers for migraine was assessed in 494 migraine patients. Stress (62%) was the most frequently cited precipitant. Weather changes (43%), missing a meal (40%), and bright sunlight (38%) were also prominent factors. Sexual activity (5%) was the precipitant cited by the least number of patients. Significant differences were found between men and women in their responses to weather changes, perfumes, cigarette smoke, missing a meal, and sexual activity. Spring was cited by 14% of patients as a time for increased migraine attacks, followed by fall (13%), summer (11%), and winter (7%).

SN- 0017-8748

MH- Adolescence; Adult; Female; Human; Male; Middle Age; Migraine (*ET); Retrospective Studies; Seasons; Sex Characteristics; Stress (CO);

AN- 94284077

LA- Eng

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JN- Aust N Z J Med 18(3):311-7

TI- Fifty years of migraine research.

AU- Lance JW;

PY- 1988 May

AB- The prevalence of ice-pick pains and ice-cream headache in migrainous patients and their localisation to the habitual site of migraine headache, suggest that segments of the central pain pathways remain hyperexcitable between spontaneous attacks. Excessive afferent stimulation (flashing lights, noise, strong perfumes) or hypothalamic changes resulting from emotion, stress or the operation of some internal clock may set in motion brainstem mechanisms, including spontaneous unilateral or bilateral discharge of pain pathways. Studies in the experimental animal have shown that certain monoaminergic brainstem nuclei can influence the cerebral circulation unilaterally and that they and the trigeminal system can induce a reflex dilatation of the external carotid circulation. Descending pathways from the same brainstem nuclei cause the adrenal gland to secrete noradrenaline, which in turn can release serotonin from blood platelets. Free serotonin may become adsorbed to the arterial wall, thus increasing sensitivity to pain, augmenting afferent input and adding a pulsating quality to migrainous pain. Both neural and vascular components of migraine implicate monoamines, specifically noradrenaline and serotonin, as neurotransmitters and humoral agents. The recent pharmacological classification of serotonin (5HT) receptors indicates that agonists of a subset of the 5HT1 receptor and antagonists of 5HT2 receptors are most likely to be helpful in the treatment of migraine.

SN- 0004-8291

MH- Animal; History of Medicine, 20th Cent.; Human; Migraine (ET/*HI/PP/TH); Research; Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t;

AN- 89049926

LA- Eng

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Perfume and Asthma and other Respiratory Effects 

JN- Allergy 51(6):434-9

TI- Placebo-controlled challenges with perfume in patients with asthma-like symptoms.

AU- Millqvist E; Löwhagen O;

PY- 1996 Jun

AB- A group of nine patients with respiratory symptoms after nonspecific irritating stimuli, but without any IgE-mediated allergy or demonstrable bronchial obstruction, were referred to the asthma/allergy outpatient department for evaluation of suspected asthma. In order to find a provocation model and objectively assess these patients’ symptoms in controlled studies, provocation with perfume or placebo was performed. The same patients were also subjected to perfume provocation with or without a carbon filter mask to ascertain whether breathing through a filter with active carbon could prevent the symptoms. The patients breathed through the mouth during the provocations, as they used a nasal clamp to prevent any smell of perfume. We found that the patients’ earlier symptoms could be verified by perfume provocation. Breathing through the carbon filter had no protective effect. The conclusion is that symptoms suggesting hyperreactivity of the respiratory tract and asthma can be provoked by perfume without the presence of bronchial obstruction, and that using a carbon filter mask has no preventive effect. The symptoms are not transmitted via the olfactory nerve, since the patients could not smell the perfume, but they may have been induced by a trigeminal reflex via the respiratory tract or by the eyes.

SN- 0105-4538

MH- Adult; Asthma (*DI/ET); Bronchial Provocation Tests (*); Double-Blind Method; Female; Human; Male; Masks; Middle Age; Perfume (*AE);

AN- 96434746

LA- Eng

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JN- Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 75(5):429-33

TI- Inhalation challenge effects of perfume scent strips in patients with asthma.

AU- Kumar P; Caradonna-Graham VM; Gupta S; Cai X; Rao PN; Thompson J;

PY- 1995 Nov

AB- BACKGROUND: Perfume- and cologne-scented advertisement strips are widely used. There are, however, very few data on the adverse effects of perfume inhalation in asthmatic subjects. OBJECTIVES: This study was undertaken to determine whether perfume inhalation from magazine scent strips could exacerbate asthma. METHODS: Twenty-nine asthmatic adults and 13 normal subjects were included in the study. Histories were obtained and physical examinations performed. Asthma severity was determined by clinical criteria of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Skin prick tests with common inhalant allergens and with the perfume under investigation were also performed. Four bronchial inhalation challenges were performed on each subject using commercial perfume scented strips, filter paper impregnated with perfume identical to that of the commercial strips, 70% isopropyl alcohol, and normal saline, respectively. Symptoms and signs were recorded before and after challenges. Pulmonary function studies were performed before and at 10, 20, and 30 minutes after challenges. RESULTS: Inhalational challenges using perfume produced significant declines in FEV1 in asthmatic patients when compared with control subjects. No significant change in FEV1 was noted after saline (placebo) challenge in asthmatic patients. The percent decline in FEV1 was significantly greater after challenge in severely asthmatic patients as compared with those with mild asthma. Chest tightness and wheezing occurred in 20.7% of asthmatic patients after perfume challenges. Asthmatic exacerbations after perfume challenge occurred in 36%, 17%, and 8% of patients with severe, moderate, and mild asthma, respectively. Patients with atopic asthma had greater decreases in FEV1 after perfume challenge when compared with patients with nonallergic asthma. CONCLUSIONS: Perfume-scented strips in magazines can cause exacerbations of symptoms and airway obstruction in asthmatic patients. Severe and atopic asthma increases risk of adverse respiratory reactions to perfumes.

SN- 1081-1206

MH- Administration, Inhalation; Adult; Asthma (*CI/PP); Female; Forced Expiratory Volume; Human; Male; Middle Age; Perfume (*AE); Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t;

AN- 96075514

LA- Eng

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JN- Hum Biol 68(3):405-14

TI- Genetic and environmental factors associated with asthma.

AU- Bener A;

PY- 1996 Jun

AB- We investigate the familial and environmental risk factors associated with asthma among United Arab Emirates schoolchildren aged 6-14 years. A cross-sectional study of 850 schoolchildren living in both urban and rural areas (average age 9.36 +/- 2.11 years; 46.8% boys, 53.2% girls) was conducted using self-administered questionnaires between October 1992 and May 1993. The population sample had a high prevalence rate of diagnosed asthma (13.6%) and allergic rhinitis (22.9%). The frequency of asthma, allergic rhinitis, and eczema among parents and siblings reflected the same pattern as that seen in the children. Environmental risk factors associated with asthma were pets, medicine, plants, dust storm, physical exercise, humidity, and perfume. All other factors, such as foods, climate, and parental smoking, showed no apparent relation to the development of asthma. The logistic regression analysis showed that parental asthma, plants, perfume, dust storm, humidity, and pets were the only significant predictors after adjusting for sex and other confounding covariates in the model. In conclusion, risk factors for asthma identified by our study are similar to those found in other community-based studies. Consistencies and discrepancies between our findings and those from other studies with respect to asthma risk factors support the hypothesis that asthma is a multifactorial disease related to both familial and environmental influences.

SN- 0018-7143

MH- Adolescence; Age Distribution; Asthma (EP/*ET/*GE/PP); Child;

Cross-Sectional Studies; Data Collection; Environmental Pollution (*AE); Female; Human; Incidence; Logistic Models; Male; Risk Factors; Sex Distribution; Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; United Arab Emirates (EP);

AN- 97089413

LA- Eng

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JN- Ugeskr Laeger 153(13):939-40

TI- [Occupational asthma caused by scented gravel in cat litter boxes] 

AU- Jensen OC; Petersen I;

PY- 1991 Mar 25

AB- Perfumes are now added to articles in everyday use to an increasing extent. One example of this is addition of perfume to gravel in cat toilets. It is recognized that perfumes may cause toxic and allergic skin reactions while perfume as the cause of asthma is not so well recognized. In the case described here, exposure to industrial perfume resulted in asthma on account of irritation.

SN- 0041-5782

MH- Acrolein (AA/AE); Adult; Air Pollutants, Occupational (*AE); Alcohols, Amyl (AE); Animal; Animal Husbandry; Asthma (*CI/DI/PP); Case Report; Cats; English Abstract; Human; Male; Occupational Diseases (*CI/DI/PP); Peak Expiratory Flow Rate; Perfume (*AE); Terpenes (AE);

AN- 91220443

LA- Dan

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JN- Med Tr Prom Ekol (5):15-9

TI- [Air pollution and the prevalence of bronchial asthma among the pediatric population of Moscow] 

AU- Revich BA;

PY- 1995

AB- The article presents results of descriptive epidemiologic study of bronchial asthma among children in Moscow where the incidence is steadily growing. Since 1947 average prevalence of bronchial asthma in Moscow has increased over 7 times, being considerably uneven over the territory. The average prevalence equals 6.9/1,000, but on 56% of the territory it is double higher. Sites of the higher occurrence are localized in the living area situated near the Zoo, horse races, perfume factory and other enterprises, near major automobile roads. Statistic analysis of the prevalence if correlated with concentrations of pollutants in the air proved that nitrogen oxides induce 60% of the cases. No differences in some risk factors (heredity, living conditions, etc.) were revealed by the poll among families of the ailing children residing in the districts with variable air pollution. The results helped to restructure pediatric allergologic service in the city.

SN- English Abstract

MH- Air Pollutants (AE); Air Pollution (*AE/SN); Asthma (*EP/ET); Child; English Abstract; Human; Moscow (EP); Prevalence; Risk Factors; Urban Population (*SN);

AN- 95392916

LA- Rus

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JN- Am J Med 80(1):18-22

TI- Effect of odors in asthma.

AU- Shim C; Williams MH Jr;

PY- 1986 Jan

AB- Many patients complain that some odors worsen their asthma. Perfume and cologne are two of the most frequently mentioned offenders. Four patients with a history of worsening of asthma on exposure to cologne underwent challenge with a cologne, and their pulmonary function was tested before, during, and after the exposure. Forced expiratory volume in one second declined 18 to 58 percent below the baseline period during the 10-minute exposure and gradually increased in the next 20 minutes. Saline placebo pretreatment did not affect the response to subsequent challenge. Single-blind pretreatment with metaproterenol and atropine prevented decline in one-second forced expiratory volume in three of four patients and blunted the response in the other. Cromolyn sodium prevented decline in one of four, and occlusion of nostrils prevented decline in one of three. A survey of 60 asthmatic patients revealed a history of respiratory symptoms in 57 on exposure to one or more common odors. Odors are an important cause of worsening of asthma.

SN- 0002-9343

MH- Adult; Asthma (*ET/PC); Atropine (TU); Bronchial Provocation Tests; Cromolyn Sodium (TU); Female; Forced Expiratory Volume; Household Products (AE); Human; Insecticides (AE); Male; Middle Age; Odors (*); Orciprenaline (TU); Perfume (*AE); Smoke (AE); Time Factors; Tobacco;

AN- 86100530

LA- Eng

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