Your sense of smell could help predict your risk of Alzheimer’s

Research journal Annals of Neurology has published the results of a study that suggest a person’s sense of smell may be a factor that could determine their chances of developing Alzheimer’s. This could potentially be a breakthrough in the medical field, as Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and it affects nearly six million adults in the USA alone. By the year 2050, it’s expected that the number of Alzheimer’s sufferers in the US will reach nearly 14 million unless new preventative measures or treatments are discovered.

Image Credit

Alzheimer’s, like most illnesses, presents itself slowly, but the earlier it is treated the better the chances are of success. At present, however, this disease can only be identified after several cognitive and medical assessments have taken place, and it can take months or even years to be clinically diagnosed. If the new studies based on olfactory performance are able to show early warning signs, the future for Alzheimer’s suffers could be very different.


Smelling out the risk

An increasing number of studies recently have focused on smell, and both humans and dogs noses have come under scrutiny. In the study published in the Annals of Neurology, the principal investigator was Dr Mark Albers of the MGH, and he and his team discovered that by assessing a person’s ability to distinguish, recall and recognise different smells, they could identify those who were at a greater risk of getting Alzheimer’s.

As Alzheimer’s can negatively affect brain circuits that control a person’s sense of smell, the disease could be detected as much as a decade before it began causing memory problems. Researchers based the premise of their study on this and began trying to ascertain how much of an impact olfactory sense could have in identifying the disease.

Positive results

The research was carried out with four groups and was controlled by pharmaceutical consulting specialist staff, such as those that can be sourced through

183 older adults were assessed and took part in tests to assess their sense of smell and capabilities. Using these tests the researchers were able to distinguish who had a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s and they believe that their findings prove that a person’s sense of smell can be used to ascertain their risk of developing this dreaded disease.