October 2, 2014

Losing the sense of smell predicts death within five years

Olfactory Dysfunction Predicts 5-Year Mortality in Older Adults


Prediction of mortality has focused on disease and frailty, although antecedent biomarkers may herald broad physiological decline. Olfaction, an ancestral chemical system, is a strong candidate biomarker because it is linked to diverse physiological processes. We sought to determine if olfactory dysfunction is a harbinger of 5-year mortality in the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project [NSHAP], a nationally representative sample of older U.S. adults. 3,005 community-dwelling adults aged 57–85 were studied in 2005–6 (Wave 1) and their mortality determined in 2010–11 (Wave 2). Olfactory dysfunction, determined objectively at Wave 1, was used to estimate the odds of 5-year, all cause mortality via logistic regression, controlling for demographics and health factors.