For older adults, being unable to identify scents is a strong predictor of death within five years, according to a study published October 1, 2014, in the journal PLOS ONE. Thirty-nine percent of study subjects who failed a simple smelling test died during that period, compared to 19 percent of those with moderate smell loss and just 10 percent of those with a healthy sense of smell.

The hazards of smell loss were “strikingly robust,” the researchers note, above and beyond most chronic diseases. Olfactory dysfunction was better at predicting mortality than a diagnosis of heart failure, cancer or lung disease.

– University of Chicago Medical Center

via Decreased ability to identify odors may predict five-year mortality.