Weird ‘Smell Test’ Reveals Alzheimer’s Risk

We didn’t believe it either, but then …

(MELISSA MATTHEWS, NEWSWEEK)

A team of researchers from the University of Chicago says new research may help provide a simple and affordable test that detects dementia risk.

RELATED: GOOD NEWS on Alzheimer’s: ‘Decline is NOT inevitable’

An unusual new ‘smell test’ may help doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s.

In a large sample of nearly 3,000 adults ages 57 to 85 years old, researchers looked at whether a decline in our sense of smell could determine dementia diagnosis.

Previous research has shown that tangles—twisted fibers of a protein that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s—can be found in the olfactory system and that dementia is linked to a decrease in this sense.

In the study, people sniffed five different odors: peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather. These were taken from a larger test used to evaluate sense of smell.

In a five-year follow up, people who couldn’t physically detect even one of the scents all had dementia. Almost 80 percent of those who only detected one or two scents had also been diagnosed with the disease.

So, does this mean that a potential dementia test comes down to whether you can smell a piece of salmon?

One of the largest studies so far on Alzheimer’s 

Dr. Mony de Leon, director of the Center for Brain Health at NYU Langone Health, expressed his ambivalence about the study’s implications.

“In general terms, it seems pretty interesting…. What’s really most important in this study is the sample size. This must make it the largest study of its kind.”

But after analyzing the data, he suggests researchers did a better job of predicting who wouldn’t get dementia.

“It’s good, but it’s not yet ready for prime time,” de Leon says of the study.

Petersen agrees the research is well-done, but says that, on its own, it won’t be used in the doctor’s office.

However, coupled with other tests analyzing factors such as gait and vision, the new finding could be invaluable. READ THE FULL STORY AT NEWSWEEK.COM. Also of interest: Midlife Behaviors Determine Your Dementia Risk

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