Posted on Apr 30, 2019, 6 p.m.
Getting your sense of smell checked my be worth considering as a new Michigan State University study has found links between poor sense of smell and a higher risk of early death in older adults, as published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
“Poor sense of smell becomes more common as people age, and there’s a link to a higher risk for death. Our study is the first to look at the potential reasons why it predicts a higher mortality.” says Honglei Chen.
Data was analyzed from close to 2,300 participants between the ages of 71-82 who took part in the ABC study who were followed for 13 years and assessment included a smell test of 12 odors: after accounting for factors such as sex, race, and lifestyle factors links stayed consistent for poor sense of smell correlating with a 46% increased risk of death after 10 years and a 30% risk at 13 years.
Sense of smell should be taken seriously as a predictor of potential health problems due to those who were in good health at the beginning of the ABC study were surprisingly found to be at a higher risk. Although reduced sense of smell is an early sign of Parkinson’s disease and dementia these factors were not enough to explain link in increased risk; additional research is required to solve this connection between early risk of death and reduced sense of smell.
“We don’t have a reason for more than 70% of the increased risk. We need to find out what happened to these individuals, it tells us that in older adults, impaired sense of smell has broader implications of health beyond what we have already known. Incorporating a sense of smell screening in routine doctor visits might be a good idea at some point.” explains Chen.
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