Scientists: Weakening sense of smell a strong predictor of death

October 2, 2014 3:46 PM

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Among older adults, a decreased ability to identify scents is a strong indicator of death within five years, a new study suggests. The study, published October 1, 2014 in the journal PLOS ONE, indicates that 39 percent of participants who could not successfully complete a simple smelling test died within that time period, compared to 19 percent of individuals with moderate smell loss and 10 percent of those with a healthy sense of smell.

The researchers called the dangers of smell loss “strikingly robust,” moreso than most chronic diseases. Olfactory dysfunction had a better chance of predicting mortality than a diagnosis of heart failure, lung disease or cancer. Severe liver damage was the only indicator of death that was more powe...

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