Smell test may predict death
Older people with a poor sense of of smell are at a higher risk of dying within five years. That's the conclusion of a study at the University of Chicago where researchers said that while there's no evidence to suggest that loss of smell is a cause of death, it may be a harbinger of it.
To conduct their study, the team had 3,000 adults between the ages of 57 to 85 to take part in a smell test. The assessment involved identifying distinct odors encased on the tips of felt-tip pens. Five years after the test, 39 percent of adults who had the lowest scores (4-5 errors) had passed away, compared with 19 percent with moderate smell loss and just 10 percent with a healthy sense of smell (0-1 errors).
The researchers do not know exactly how smell loss relates to a person's lifespan, but believe that it may an early warning system, like "a canary in a coal mine,” The researchers hope their finding can lead to a quick and useful clinical test to identify patients most at risk of dying in the near future.