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Importance of Smell

March 22, 2017

Losing the sense of smell can have unexpected consequences.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

The importance of smell. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It’s easy to take our sense of smell for granted. But even though we don’t rely on it as much as dogs and many other animals do, it’s still important. And, according to University of Alaska biological anthropologist Kara Hoover, being unable to smell at all can be devastating. At a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she explained that the condition, known as anosmia, can take a physical, emotional, and social toll.

KARA HOOVER (University of Alaska):

So your mental health can be impacted by depression that results from loss of engagement with things like food and drink, since you only rely on your sense of taste if your sense of smell is gone, as well as anxiety about body odor, and not being able to detect danger like gas leaks.

HIRSHON:

What’s more, Hoover says people who can’t smell miss out on subtle social cues, and are at an increased risk for obesity because they tend to seek out salty, high-fat foods. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard