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Loss of smell in middle, old age indicative of early death risk, claims study

Losing olfactory senses makes you more vulnerable to premature death, say researchers.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 23, 2017 08:22 IST
Press Trust of India, London
Early death,Loss of smell,Olfactory
Olfactory assessments provide insights on the ageing brain, say researchers.(Shutterstock)

People who lose their sense of smell in middle or old age are at an increased risk of dying early, warns a new study.

Researchers from Stockholm University in Sweden followed about 1,774 adults aged 40 to 90 years for 10 years.

After controlling for demographic, health-related, and cognitive confounders, each additional correctly identified odour lowered the risk of mortality by 8%, researchers said. About 23% of the participants died.

Individuals who performed at chance level on tests (indicating complete olfactory loss) were at a 19% higher risk of death than individuals with normal smell function, researchers said.

The results contribute to the growing evidence that olfactory assessments might provide insights on the ageing brain, researchers said.

“Our results were not explained by dementia, which was previously linked to smell loss. Instead, mortality risk was uniquely predicted by smell loss,” said Jonas Olofsson, senior author of study published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“In our future research, we will try to pinpoint the biological processes that can explain this phenomenon,” Olofsson added.

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First Published: Mar 23, 2017 07:51 IST