Scientists discover method for predicting death through smell

A group of experts at the University of Chicago says they have found an accurate method for diagnosing whether a person is at risk of dying within the next five years. According to a study by them, the loss of olfactory abilities may be a more definite clue to predicting death than to discover that you have cancer, heart failure or a lung problem, for example.

According to scientists, smell is a sense that serves as a reference for the general state of our body and allows the body to know when it is exposed to toxins present in the environment. Therefore, they conducted research that allowed us to study the relationship between the loss of olfactory abilities and the life expectancy of human beings.

Under the command of researcher Jayant Pinto, the group evaluated 3, 000 volunteers between 57 and 84 years old, meeting for the first time between 2005 and 2006. At the time, they performed a simple experiment to determine the level of smell loss. from each participant, asking them to identify the scents of leather, roses, fish, orange and mint.

Smell of premonition

Five years later, when scholars went to repeat the test with volunteers, they found that 430 of the participants had died during the period. They found that 39% of those diagnosed with anosmia (total loss of smell) and 19% of those suffering from hyposmia (partial loss of smell) had died - among the dead, only 10% had normal smell.

For the avoidance of doubt, the researchers added in their calculations a number of variables that may increase or decrease the risk of death, such as age, chronic diseases, gender, cholesterol and other factors. Still, the results remained almost unchanged.

The results indicate that suffering from a loss of smell can indicate a four times greater probability of dying in 5 years than someone who has the perfect sense of smell. In addition, anosmia or hyposmia also turned out to be more accurate evidence of a risk of death than the diagnosis of emphysema, cancer, heart attack, stroke, or diabetes - a weaker indicator than severe liver damage.

How does it work?

According to the study, malfunctions of the nose serve to predict death effectively thanks to the tip of the olfactory nerve, which is the only part of the human nervous system that is continually regenerated by stem cells throughout life. However, the supply of this type of cell is reduced with advancing age, causing a gradual decrease in the ability to perceive and differentiate odors.

Thus, the diagnosis of an olfactory dysfunction may imply that the body is no longer able to regenerate on its own, which may mean that it is in a state of advanced deterioration or near death. Still, it is always worth noting that even with the loss of regenerative capacity, a healthy and careful life can extend people's life expectancy.