The sense of smell is much more important than previously thought because it can predict death among older adults.
Based on his research, University of Chicago surgeon Jayant Pinto says,“You have more than three times higher odds of death in the next five years if you have no sense of smell compared to those with a normal sense of smell.”
Moreover, many Alzheimer’s patients experience a weakening sense of smell as their first symptom. It frequently occurs in early-stage Parkinson’s disease as well.
According to the study, "not only was impaired smell a risk factor for death in the next five years, it was a stronger predictor of mortality than heart failure, lung disease, and cancer."
The sense of smell seems to act as the “canary in the coal mine of human health.”
Dr. Pinto theorizes that unlike the other senses, the olfactory system relies on a continuous regeneration of stem cells. A weakening sense of smell could indicate a more global decline in the body’s ability to generate new cells and that smell loss is a harbinger of physiological shutdown.
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