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Sense of Smell Linked to Lifespan

Update Date: Jun 03, 2015 11:30 PM EDT

How long will you live? Your sense of smell may help give you an idea.

New research linked a reduced ability to identify certain odors to a significantly greater risk of dying within four years.

The latest findings suggest that mortality rate is significantly higher among seniors with reduced sense of smell. Study data, which involved d 1,169 Medicare recipients who were asked to scratch and sniff odorant strips in multiple choice smell tests, 45 percent in participants with the lowest scores on a 40-item smell test, compared with 18 percent of participants with the highest scores.

"The increased risk of death increased progressively with worse performance in the smell identification test and was highest in those with the worst smelling ability, even after adjusting for medical burden and dementia," lead researcher Dr. Davangere Devanand, said in a news release. "This was a study of older adults--the question that remains is whether young to middle-aged adults with impaired smell identification ability are at high risk as they grow older."

The findings were published in the journal Annals of Neurology.

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