That smell testing gives a valuable window into the health of the brain as it ages – just as the back of the eye does to a skilled doctor
New Delhi: Turns out, your nose can do more than just let you know when it’s time to take out the trash – it could be the key to helping you live longer. A Stockholm University research followed more than 1,700 Swedes, aged between 40 and 90, for 10 years. At the beginning of the study they were asked to identify 13 different smells.
Researchers found that a person’s chance of death was linked to how well they scored in the test. Each wrong answer increased their risk of dying over the study period by nearly 10 percent.
The results published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society contribute to growing evidence that smell testing gives a valuable window into the health of the brain as it ages – just as the back of the eye does to a skilled doctor.
Senior author Jonas Olofsson said that the results were not explained by dementia, which was previously linked to smell loss. Instead, mortality risk was uniquely predicted by smell loss.
Olofsson noted, “In our future research, we will try to pinpoint the biological processes that can explain this phenomenon.” An intriguing study done at the University of Florida found it may be possible to diagnose Alzheimer’s by testing how close a person needs to be to a peanut to smell it.
Patients who needed the nut to be at least 6cm closer to the left nostril than to the right before they could detect its smell were all diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
A study by Harvard University also found that people with Alzheimer’s had greater difficulty identifying 10 common smells, including lemon, mint and strawberry.
Scientists believe that plaques which clog up brain cells in Alzheimer’s patients may damage the olfactory nerves where they originate in the brain, giving a hint of what’s to come.