Pokemon Go's Health Benefits, Asparagus Smell in Urine Considered — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
December 14, 2016

Pokemon Go's Health Benefits, Asparagus Smell in Urine Considered

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and Lorenzo Di Francesco, MD, FACP, FHM

How much exercise do people get from Pokémon Go, anyway? And why do some people smell asparagus metabolites in their urine while others do not? Two studies in The BMJ's Christmas edition tackle these burning questions.

In the first article, researchers studied nearly 1200 U.S. adults aged 18–35 who had smartphones that automatically recorded their daily steps. Those who played Pokémon Go averaged some 4300 steps daily in the 4 weeks before installing the game on their phone. This increased to 5100 a day in the week after installation — reflecting an additional 11 minutes of walking daily — but then gradually declined, reaching 4000 a day in the sixth week after installation.

The researchers weren't discouraged. They write: "Although the association between Pokémon GO and change in number of steps was short lived ... some people might sustain increased physical activity through the game. Also, the effect ... might be different in children."

In the second study, nearly 7000 U.S. health professionals for whom genetic data were available responded to the following statement: "After eating asparagus, you notice a strong characteristic odor in your urine." Some 40% strongly agreed, while the remainder were characterized as having asparagus anosmia.

Examining genetic data, researchers found 871 single nucleotide polymorphisms that reached genome-wide significance for anosmia. All were located on chromosome one, which contains members of the olfactory receptor 2 family. The researchers write, "Future replication studies are necessary before considering targeted therapies to help anosmic people discover what they are missing."

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