Poor smell sense may sig­nal de­men­tia risk

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - HEALTH & FITNESS -

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.

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