In this case, “could” is the key injunction. Irish biochemist J.C.M. Stewart published the tomato-BO connection in Medical Hypotheses, so while it’s a peer-reviewed guess, the stinky among us should wait for results before ditching the tomato sauce.
The key to Stewart’s theory are chemicals called terepenes. The compounds are olfactory superstars, giving hops their distinct bitterness, marijuana its distinct skunkiness and lemons their distinct … lemoniness.
Tomatoes are stacked with a the terepene lycopene, also common to many other pinkish-red fruits like peppers and papayas. He suggests lypocenes could be making the armpits of tomato lovers especially stinky.
As he writes in his abstract:
In this paper I propose that under arm odour is commonly caused by terpenes excreted via the axillary apocrine glands. I also show that these come from terpene and carotenoid-rich dietary sources including lycopene, tomatoes, orange peel and the glandular trichomes of tomato plants. These observations suggest that the axillary apocrine glands are a prominent excretory route for terpenes. Considering the quantities eaten, tomatoes are likely to be the main source of dietary terpenes, and under arm odour in turn.
If he’s right, the proof would run directly against the common folk practice of drinking and even bathing in tomato juice to treat body odor.
But maybe a tomato juice bath just leaves a person smelling so appetizing we aren’t likely to notice any extra zest.