London, Jan 13 (Agencies): Losing your sense of smell at an old age could mean that your days are already numbered, a study suggests.

Scientists from Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago in the US found that the more daily smells one could identify, the more likely he was to stay alive longer.

The team gave more than 1,000 volunteers, aged between 53 and 100 years, a standard 12 item smell test, the journal Chemical Senses reports.

According to the Daily Mail, study leader Robert Wilson from Rush University said: "We used a scratch and sniff test for each odour where the participant had a choice of four options."

"The odours were fairly familiar such as smoke, lemon, black pepper, chocolate and cinnamon," Wilson added.

The researchers then followed the participants, none of whom had dementia or Parkinson's disease at the time, for four years. During this period 321 individuals or 27.6 percent died.

Amazingly, they found that the risk of death was 36 percent higher for those who only got six of the answers correct compared to those who managed to identify 11 out of 12.

This association was true even when age, disability, depression, brain dysfunction and leisure activity was taken into account.