It is well known that dogs have a sense of smell than humans. For this reason dogs have been used in medicine to “smell” cancer, congestive heart failure and a host of other ailments. Check out my previous blog about this fascinating subject.
Yet until now,to my knowledge no one has investigated whether humans are capable of smelling diseases. What happened is that a certain lady in Scotland claimed that she was able to smell her husband’s Parkinsons disease before he was actually diagnosed with it. Parkinsons causes sufferers to have difficulty with movements and at times can cause dementia.
So what happened next in that some researchers put together a group 12 Parkinsons patients along with a group of the same size of people without Parkinsons. They then took t shirts which of course were worn and had this woman smell each one. She correctly identified 11 out of 12 patients with Parkinsons.
Not only that but after the researchers told her that she had missed one, she insisted that that t shirt smelled like Parkinsons. Sure enough fast forward six months and that patient was diagnosed with Parkinsons!
What this means is that researchers will now focus on developing tests to pick up Parkinsons.They will try to identify the chemical or chemicals from Parkinsons patients which cause that particular smell. Then a swab could be made which could identify these chemicals.
If Parkinsons can be diagnosed earlier, then treatments might be more effective in preventing long term consequences such as movement disorders. And of course other diseases might cause similar but unique smells.