Poor Sense of Smell in Older People Linked to Almost Double the Risk of Dying
Older people with a poor sense of smell could have almost double the risk of dying in the coming decade compared with those who were better at picking up odors, a study has found. A poor sense of smell was linked to a 46 percent higher risk of dying in the next 10 years, and a 30 percent higher risk of dying in 13 years. The research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, included 2,289 U.S. adults between 71 to 82 years old, who completed a smell test. The participants were asked to inhale 12 common odors, and received a point for each correct smell they chose out of four options. The team categorized the respondents as having a good, moderate or poor sense of smell according to their score, and also looked at information on the participants, including whether they smoked, drank and exercised. The researchers checked if the participants were still alive three, five, 10 and 13 years later. By the end of the study, 1,211 of the total had died. The association between poor smell and the risk of dying was still apparent after the team accounted for factors which could skew the results, such as sex, race, and lifestyle. This link was most apparent among those with good health at the start of the study, compared to those with poor health. Of those with a poor sense of smell, 22 percent died of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Parkinson’s, and 6 percent were related to weight loss.