Jo Malone says her nose is so sensitive she can sniff out cancer
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Perfume expert Jo Malone once performed a demonstration on Good Morning Britain showing how she can smell cancer.
It sounds like it couldn’t possibly be true, or must be something out of a very strange superhero TV show, but Malone seems to have a sense of smell that is a genuine superpower.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising, given that she’s in the perfume business.
On the TV show, she took on a dog that was specifically trained to sniff out cancers, using the heightened powers of smell that dogs possess.
In that interview, the entrepreneur revealed that she knew when her own husband had cancer because of something she smelled, as well as the change to his natural scent.
She said: "My husband was very, very poorly and I kept saying to the doctors 'I can smell this smell down his neck' and they kept saying 'no you can't,' and I said 'I can'."
After tests, it later turned out that he had an adrenal gland problem called Addison’s disease.
Malone is a cancer survivor herself, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past, but only found out how different her sense of smell was when she visited a charity called Medical Detection Dogs, which trains dogs to sniff out illnesses.
It turned out that she could smell amyl acetate – a chemical found in cancers – diluted in mineral oil up to one part in a million.
Most people can’t smell it at one part in a thousand.
Dogs, on the other hand, can smell it at one in a trillion.
Still, that makes Malone’s nose remarkable for a human.
This is why training dogs to sniff diseases is such an important development.
At the time, Malone said: “This can add to early diagnosis that can save lives.
“It's not dogs or a regular test, let's work together and get this research going so these amazing animals can help with diagnosing cancers early and then more people will survive it.”
Explaining how diseases have a smell, Dr Claire Guest from Medical Detection Dogs said: “Disease causes a biochemical change, which leads to a change in our odour that can help in diagnosis.”
In a more recently interview she shared how she realised that her nose was different at a young age, and attributed it to her dyslexia.
She told Liz Taylor on the Events That Made Me podcast: “I’m severely dyslexic, and often your senses become sort of slightly muddled.
“And from a very, very young age, I had this incredible sense of smell and I thought everybody could smell the way I could.
“I could smell what the doctor said.
“I could smell when it was going to rain.
“I could smell when my father's canvases that I had whitewashed dry were ready to paint art on, so that power of smell for me was an important sense.”