Losing Sense Of Smell Linked To Early Death, Study Says

Posted: Mar 23 2017, 11:54am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 23 2017, 11:59am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Losing Sense of Smell Linked to Early Death, Study Says
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Researchers have found a connection between premature death and diminishing sense of smell

Losing sense of smell may take away more than your scent, taste or joys of life. New research suggests it can be a strong predictor of early death. People who lose their sense of smell in the middle age may be at increased risk of dying prematurely within 10 years.

“The sense of smell seems to be a good indicator of aging brain health,” said co-author Dr. Jonas Olofsson, an associate professor of psychology at Stockholm University. “We see smell function as the 'canary in the coal mine.”

Inability to sense smell or anosmia is often associated with the onset of mental conditions like Parkinson’s disease or dementia but some researchers have also attempted to find a link between early death and loss of smell (either total or partially). The findings of this latest study add weight to this existing theory.

For the study, Swedish researchers followed up nearly 1,800 adults aged 40 to 90 for a decade. They looked at the results of smell tests and their health condition and found a connection between the two.

“Participants are asked to smell the odor and then identify what the odor is by selecting the correct name or picture from a set of choices.” Sensory impairment researcher Carla Schubert who was not involved in the study said.

During the study period, more than 400 participants died, which accounts for 23 percent of all participants involved in the study. People who scored low on smell tests had about 20 percent higher risk of death compared to those who do not have trouble smelling.

Even after results were adjusted for age, gender, race and overall health, the smell test still was a strong predictor of mortality in following 10 years. However, it is not clear how sense of smell is linked to mortality.

“Our results were not explained by dementia, which was previously linked to smell loss. Instead, mortality risk was uniquely predicted by smell loss," said Olofsson. "In our future research, we will try to pinpoint the biological processes that can explain this phenomenon."

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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