Poor sense of smell associated with nearly 50 percent higher risk for death in 10 years - Alzheimer's Society comment

New research has found that a poor sense of smell could be an early warning for poor health in older age.

The study, published today in Annals of Internal Medicine, revealed that a poor sense of smell was associated with 46 percent higher mortality after 10 years, compared with a good sense of smell.

Dementia and Parkinson's disease were named as possible drivers but, together, explained less than a quarter of this increase in risk.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

'We know our senses, such as smell, hearing and sight, have the potential to point to early signs of the diseases that cause dementia – just last year, we invested £5 million in research to understand how these and other factors could help us improve diagnosis, and understand how dementia develops.

'Although this study did find a poor sense of smell in healthy 70 year olds was linked to a higher chance of death within 13 years, it didn’t prove that this was directly linked to a higher risk of dementia. 

'It doesn’t look like our sense of smell can be relied upon to sniff out dementia just yet but, one day, research will beat dementia, and we’re going to keep working until we find a way to treat and cure it.'