People who do well on smell tests were most likely to be alive five years later
Checking the person’s sense of smell in later life can help doctors predict the possibility of them remaining alive in the next five years, according to a PLOS One study suggests.
A study was conducted on 3000 adults and found that 39% of persons who had the poorest sense of smell were dead in five years as compared to 10% of those who were very adept in identifying odors correctly. Researchers contend that loss of smell sense does not cause death directly but is a warning sign.
Anyone with long lasting changes in smell perception should seek medical advice. Loss of smell sense is a portent, an early warning system that hints that damage has been done.
Researchers from the University of Chicago asked a representative sample of adults between the ages of 57-85 to take part in a quick smell test which involved picking out distinct odors which are encased on the tips of felt tip pens. Five years later 39% of the adults who got the lowest rankings had passed away as compared to 19% with moderate scores and only 10% in people who had a healthy sense of smell. After taking into accounts factors like age, nutrition, smoking habits, poverty and overall health into account, the researchers found that persons with the lowest scores were still at great risk.
Lead scientist, Prof Jayant Pinto, said: “We think loss of the sense of smell is like the canary in the coal mine. It doesn’t directly cause death, but it is a harbinger, an early warning system that shows damage may have been done. Our findings could provide a useful clinical test, a quick inexpensive way to identify patients most at risk.”
It is not exactly clear how loss of sense of smell leads to reduction in lifespan. Researchers opine that loss of smell sense could be linked to a fall in regeneration or repair of cells in the body. For a healthy sense of smell there must be a continuous turnover of cells which line the nose. A poor sense of smell could be linked to pollution and bug exposure.