A simple sniff test may be a non-invasive way to find out whether people are developing Alzheimer’s disease.

A simple sniff test may be a non-invasive way to find out whether people are developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Problems identifying smells may predict Alzheimer’s: study


A new study out of McGill University suggests that testing someone’s ability to identify smells could reveal the presence of Alzheimer’s disease long before symptoms appear. This is important because early detection of dementia could eventually allow for early treatment to delay the onset of symptoms like memory loss. There is no such treatment yet but researchers are working hard to find one.

The sense of smell and ability to identify them occurs in the same parts of the brain that are among the first affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
The sense of smell and ability to identify them occurs in the same parts of the brain that are among the first affected by Alzheimer’s disease. © David Duprey/AP Photo file/Oct. 7, 2003

Scratch-and-sniff tests administered

In this study, researchers worked with almost 300 people with an average age of 63 who had a parent who suffered from Alzheimer’s and so, are more at risk of developing it themselves. They were given different pieces of paper which they scratched to release the smell of substance like bubble gum, lemon or gasoline. Some of them agreed to lumbar punctures to measure the quantities of proteins associated with the disease that were in their spinal fluid.

The researchers found that those who had the most trouble identifying odours were those who had the most biological markers for Alzheimer’s. That suggests these scratch-and-sniff tests could present a non-invasive way to identify people who are in the early stages of developing dementia.

‘It’s crucially important’ to identify disease early, says doctor

“It’s crucially important to know it because we need to find a way to intervene in the process of brain changes before the onset of symptoms…with a hope that you can delay the onset of symptoms and by some substantial period of time,” says Dr. John Breitner, director of the Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease at McGill University.

He says that delaying onset by five years would reduce the burden on Alzheimer’s by 50 per cent in terms of things like the number of cases, economic losses, and losses of productivity.

People affected doubling every 15 years

Breitner notes that in Canada and around the world the number of people developing Alzheimer’s disease is doubling every 15 years and the number of people affected is expected to be four times what it is today by the year 2050.

This study was published in Science Daily.

Categories: Health, Internet, Science and Technology
Tags: , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available