In a study of nearly 3,000 volunteers ages 57 to 85, researchers from the University of Chicago assessed the inability to identify five common odors as a risk for developing dementia.
At baseline, 78 percent of the volunteers correctly identified four of the five odors. Five years later, participants unable to identify at least four of the five odors were more than twice as likely to have dementia.
According to lead study author Dr. Jayant Pinto, “These results show that the sense of smell is closely connected with brain function and health. We think a decline in the ability to smell, specifically, but also sensory function more broadly, may be an important early sign, making people at greater risk for dementia.”
Even though the research team demonstrated a link between sense of smell and dementia risk, their findings do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
A sniff test for dementia could allow early detection of cognitive decline.
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