15:39 02 October 2014
A recent study has found that people who have lost their sense of smell are almost six times more likely to die with the next five years. Researchers carried out an experiment and used five scents including fish, rose, leather, orange, and peppermint. Men and women who are unable to identify these through odour could be seriously ill, the team stated.
University of Chicago researcher Jayant Pinto said: ‘Of all the human senses, smell is the most undervalued and underappreciated – until it’s gone.’
He added: ‘We think that loss of sense of smell is like the canary in the coal mine.
‘It doesn’t directly cause death, but it’s a harbinger, an early warning that something has gone badly wrong.’
One possibility is that the health of the olfactory nerve, which carries information on smell from the nose to the brain, is a sign of overall health.
Dr Martha McClintock, the study’s senior author, said: ‘This evolutionary ancient special sense may signal a key mechanism that affects human longevity.’