Sense of smell can determine dementia risk

A link has been found between a poor sense of smell and the chance of developing dementia.

Poor smell linked to dementia risk

A new study has found a direct link between a poor sense of smell and a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Our ability to recognise specific smells could provide a way of spotting early damage to the brain caused by neurodegenerative disease, according to the research.

The long-term study of almost 3000 adults aged 57 to 85 involved waving sniffing sticks with various smells in front of participant’s noses to determine if they could identify the odour.

The majority of those tested, which was 78 per cent, had a normal sense of smell and could accurately identify at least four out of five common odours. The remaining 14 per cent were able to recognise three; five per cent could only identify two; two per cent could only recognise one; and one per cent couldn't identify a single smell.

The research found that people who failed the test were more than twice as likely to develop dementia five years later.

Five years after the initial test, almost every participant who failed to name a single smell had been diagnosed with dementia, while 80 per cent of those who failed to name more than one or two correct answers had developed the condition.

As reported The Australian, the study’s lead scientist Professor Jayant Pinto from the University of Chicago believes the results show that our sense of smell is connected with brain function and health.

"We think smell ability specifically, but also sensory function more broadly, may be an important early sign, marking people at greater risk for dementia," she said.

"Loss of the sense of smell is a strong signal that something has gone wrong and significant damage has been done. This simple smell test could provide a quick and inexpensive way to identify those who are already at high risk."

The five odours, in order of increasing difficulty, were peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather.

Find out more at Journal of the American Geriatrics Society



    To make a comment, please register or login
    3rd Oct 2017
    What does acute sense of smell identify, Genius?
    3rd Oct 2017
    Definitely! hehe
    3rd Oct 2017
    Possibly Aspergers
    3rd Oct 2017
    Not sure about all other smells but a smoker is an obvious stink from many metres away for my nose.
    3rd Oct 2017
    If you are born without a sense of smell are you at greater risk of developing dementia It does not say that in the report
    The Bronze Anzac
    3rd Oct 2017
    Since the people born with no sense of smell couldn't be tested, there was no possible way of including them in the research.
    3rd Oct 2017
    There could be other reasons you lose your sense of smell, and whilst it is usually an indication something is not right, it does not mean that you will get dementia. And sometimes the loss of smell is reversed. Does this mean you will or won't get dementia?
    3rd Oct 2017
    This article concerned me but you give me hope KSS, I have very poor, almost non-existent, sense of smell which I had, without any medical or scientific proof, attributed to my exposure to many and various noxious chemicals in my working life, particularly between the ages of 18 to 40. I had convinced myself that genetics would see me through, both my parents lived into their 90s without suffering dementia. Genetics worked with my hair, my father had a full head of hair, albeit snow white, when he died, my hairline has not receded more than 1mm since I was 20. Methinks, just in case, I had better get the suicide kit ready.
    3rd Oct 2017
    What if you just don't have a good sense of smell from your 30's
    3rd Oct 2017
    What is a good sense of smell I either smell things or I don't. I don't know if it is better than or worse than average. I can smell BS a mile off.
    3rd Oct 2017
    With all the artificial toxic fragrances in products, I would say a good number of people are getting overload and ruining their sense of smell. I can smell anyone a mile a way if they are wearing parfum, deodorants and even from their strong clothes washing detergents.
    3rd Oct 2017
    I lost my sense of smell in my 20s - I don't know why. It occasionally comes back -don't know why again, and then it disappears. My doctor at the time thought a virus had wiped it out but who knows?
    20th Nov 2017
    So damn obvious, yet another research study that thinks we're all idiots. Researchers need to publish a "result paper" annually to ensure they spend their designated annual funds to ensure they are replenished the following yr (via taxpayer paid research funds). So commonly known that if one loses sense of smell it's usually b/c they're smokers...thereby "dementia" conclusion of similar approx % of ppl who smoke.

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