Sense Of Smell Could Be An Indicator Of "Premature Death"

Sense Of Smell Could Be An Indicator Of "Premature Death"

If you feel like your sense of smell is declining over time, it may be related to your life expectancy ...

What if the quality of your sense of smell said more than you thought about your life expectancy? While an increasing number of studies suggest that there may be a link between a poor sense of smell and premature death in older adults, the reasons for this correlation remain unclear.

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To find out more, a team of researchers led by Professor Honglei Chen, at Michigan State University, looked at the data collected from a panel of 2,000 volunteers, aged 71 to 82 years. They passed a simple test where they had to identify a dozen known smells, ranging from cinnamon to lemon, to gasoline and smoke.

For the following 13 years, researchers recorded the deaths among the respondents. And the results of this long-term study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine and tagged by Slate, are more than elusive. It appears that the subjects who failed to identify more than eight smells 13 years earlier were 46% more likely to die within 10 years, and 30% more likely to die before 13 years passed.

This staggering conclusion should encourage the medical profession and researchers to look a little closer at the sense of smell as a marker of declining health. Especially since a bad sense of smell has already been associated with the onset of Parkinson's disease in the previous studies. "It would be wise to include an olfactory test in medical check-ups," says Honglei Chen.

• Ruby Smith
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