A recent study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society has stated that people, who are losing their sense of smell, might be facing the risk of dying early. This finding is said to be different from other health variables such as age, gender and chronic mental disorders like dementia.
The Swedish study was carried out by researchers from the University of Stockholm with Dr. Jonas Olofsson as the lead researcher. After analysing 1,774 people belonging to the age group 40 to 90, over a decade, they found out that in middle age and beyond, people with a poor sense of smell had about a 20% increased risk of dying within 10 years.
"After controlling for demographic, health-related, and cognitive confounders, each additional correctly identified odor lowered the risk of mortality by 8 percent. Individuals who performed at chance level on tests (indicating complete olfactory loss) were at a 19 percent higher risk of death than individuals with normal smell function," said the statement.
Around 23 percent of those who took part in the study, i.e. 411 out of 1774 died during the experiment. Those people who could identify odour correctly were said to be at an 8 percent lower mortality risk.
The researchers concluded that the results of this experiment point towards the fact that assessing the olfactory system may shed light on the ageing brain. "The sense of smell seems to be a good indicator of ageing brain health," Dr. Olofsson added.
Although dementia previously had been linked with diminished sense of smell, but, the researchers found that dementia could not explain the link between smell loss and mortality risk. "Our results were not explained by dementia, which was previously linked to smell loss. Instead, mortality risk was uniquely predicted by smell loss," said Dr. Olofsson.
"In our future research, we will try to pinpoint the biological processes that can explain this phenomenon," he added.