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Smells Predict Alzheimer's

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Updated: December 12, 2005

Inability to detect odors interests researchers

Smells Help Predict Alzheimer's Disease
Researchers from the New York State Psychiatric Institute say they have found that a smell identification test can predict Alzheimer's disease. An inability to identify certain odors can show which people with cognitive impairment will go on to develop Alzheimer's.

The researchers have put together list of the top ten smells which they say are the best predictors of Alzheimer's. These are; strawberry, smoke, soap, menthol, clove, pineapple, natural gas, lilac, lemon and leather.

The subjects of the study were one hundred and fifty patients with mild cognitive impairment and sixty-three healthy elders followed up for five years. People with cognitive impairment were tested with the ten odors every six months, the healthy elders every year.

The results, presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual meeting December 2004, can give an early indication of which people with cognitive impairment will go on to develop Alzheimer's. It has long been identified that people with Alzheimer's disease, and other types of dementia, have difficulty recognizing smells and that smell seems to be affected before other senses.

Will smell identification test help early Alzheimer's diagnosis?
Early diagnosis is important as it means people with the diseased can get early treatments and medications that may help improve or maintain abilities and gives them and their families more time to plan for the future. The smell identification test requires further investigation but it may become one of the tests that will be used to help in early diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

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