Our sense of smell, or lack thereof, may be a predictor of death.
New research has discovered when an older person loses their sense of smell, it may be a sign that death is imminent within five years.
The study, done by researchers at the University of Chicago and the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, tested the noses of more than 3,000 Americans between the ages of 57 and 85.
Researchers asked the participants to identify five common scents – rose, leather, orange, fish or peppermint on a multiple-choice card.
Each individuals sense of smell was rated as low, moderate or healthy.
After five years, the research team got in touch with participants again, only to find that 430 of them had died.
What was surprising was that 39 percent of those who died had scored poorly on their smell test. Only 19 percent of participants who scored moderate and 10 percent with healthy senses of smell had also died.
After controlling for factors like age, health and socio-economic status, the researchers concluded that the study participants who failed the first smell test were four times more likely to die within the five years compared to their peers who performed better.
The olfactory predictor was more accurate at predicting death than a diagnosis of cancer, heart failure or lung disease.
The researchers hope to delve further in the study, by examining the causes of death of the 430 individuals, and also see if this study applies to younger people.
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