According to new research from of the University of Chicago, losing your sense of smell could indicate that you’ll be dead in five years.
Published in PLOS ONE, the study was part of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project and contained a sample of nearly 3,000 adults ages 57 to 85. Researchers took score of the participants’ results in an odor identification test, which consisted of smelling felt-tipped pens that smelled like rose, leather, orange, fish, and peppermint.
Five years later, the researchers found 39% of people with anosmia (no sense of smell) had died, significantly more than the 10% of normal smellers who passed away five years after the test.
Even more interesting is that after controlling for nutrition, mental health, smoking, and alcohol use, anosmia still had a significant association with mortality. These troubling findings suggest that if you can’t smell right now or have bouts of erased smell, it’s time to consult a doctor.