Poor smell sense may signal dementia risk
A poor sense of smell may indicate a higher risk for dementia, a study has found. Researchers recruited 2,906 men and women ages 57-85, testing their ability to identify five odours – orange, leather, peppermint, rose and fish. Five years later, 4.1 per cent of them had dementia.
Of all the factors the researchers measured – age, sex, race, ethnicity, education and other diseases the subjects may have had – only cognitive ability at the start of the study and poorer performance on the “smell test” were associated with an increased risk for dementia. The study is in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The risk went up with the number of odours they failed to recognize and, over all, compared with those with no olfactory impairment, those with smelling difficulties had more than twice the likelihood of developing dementia. Even among those who initially tested within the normal range for mental ability, a poor sense of smell more than doubled the risk for dementia five years later.