Weakened Sense Of Smell Is Associated With A 50 Percent Increased Risk Of Death

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Weakened Sense Of Smell Is Associated With A 50 Percent Increased Risk Of Death
Weakened Sense Of Smell Is Associated With A 50 Percent Increased Risk Of Death
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Video: Pathophysiology of Ageing 2023, February
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Weakened sense of smell is associated with a 50 percent increased risk of death

Poor sense of smell in old age is associated with a 50 percent increased risk of death over the next 10 years. However, the reason for this phenomenon remains unknown, according to scientists in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Weakened sense of smell is associated with a 50 percent increased risk of death
Weakened sense of smell is associated with a 50 percent increased risk of death

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Poor sense of smell in old age is associated with a 50 percent increased risk of death over the next 10 years. However, the reason for this phenomenon remains unknown, according to scientists in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The link between sense of smell and overall health is often overlooked, but previous research has shown that a decline may precede Parkinson's disease and even suggest a risk of premature death.

To better understand this issue, Honglei Chen of Michigan State University and colleagues analyzed data from more than 2,000 people aged 71 to 82. Each study participant took a test that tested their sensitivity to 12 common odors, including cloves, cinnamon, lemon, gasoline and smoke. Scientists have been observing people for 13 years.

Compared to those who performed better on the olfactory test, people who correctly identified fewer than eight odors were 46 percent more likely to die within 10 years and another 20 percent more often by the end of 13 years of follow-up.

Analyzing the data, the researchers found that the worst sense of smell was not associated with death from cancer and respiratory diseases, but was strongly associated with death from Parkinson's disease and dementia. There was also a moderate association with death from cardiovascular disease.

It is believed that a deterioration in the sense of smell can reduce a person's interest in food, leading to weight loss and poor health. But scientists have found that weight loss, Parkinson's disease and dementia can explain only about 30 percent of deaths associated with poor sense of smell.

Unfortunately, people rarely know when their sense of smell is getting worse, and doctors rarely check it.

“In the future, when all the health consequences are better known, it might be a good idea to test your sense of smell when you see a doctor,” Chen says.

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