Alzheimer's Health Clinics Madison TN
By Vicki Gerson
Can you identify these scents in a scratch-and-sniff test: banana, onion, soap, cinnamon, lemon, black pepper, smoke, paint thinner, pineapple, gasoline, rose, and chocolate? If so, this simple test may one day detect Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, studied about 600 adults, with an average age of 80, who showed no sign of cognitive impairment at the start of the study. Participants were asked to identify each of the above odors from one of four scents. Retested once a year for up to five years, participants also underwent a clinical evaluation that included a neurological examination and testing of their cognitive function. Over that five-year period, 30 percent developed mild cognitive impairment. The likelihood of impairment increased as the ability to identify odors decreased; those who scored below average on the smell test were 50 percent more likely to have developed impairment than those who scored above average. When researchers adjusted for smoking and a history of strokes—both of which can impair odor identification—the results still held. The researchers concluded that a decline in smell may indicate an early stage of Alzheimer’s and that this scent test may be helpful in detecting the disease.
Author: Vicki Gerson
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