Smell and taste dysfunction is associated with higher serum total cholesterol concentrations in Chinese adults

Zhe Huang, Shue Huang, Hongliang Cong, Zheng Li, Junjuan Li, Kathleen L. Keller, Gregory C. Shearer, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Shouling Wu, Xiang Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Several lipid-related hormones and peptides, such as glucagon-like peptide-1 and leptin, are involved in the regulation of taste and smell function. However, to our knowledge, it remains unknown whether these chemosensory functions are associated with lipid profiles. Objective: We examined the cross-sectional association between taste and smell dysfunction and blood cholesterol concentrations. Methods: With the use of a questionnaire, we assessed chronic smell and taste dysfunction in 12,627 Chinese participants (10,418 men and 2209 women; mean age: 54.4 y) who did not take hypolipidemic agents. Participants were categorized into 3 groups based on the number of smell and taste dysfunctions, ranging from 0 (best) to 2 (worst). A general linear model was used to test differences in serum concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides (TGs) across groups with different smell and taste status after adjusting for age, sex, education, occupation, smoking, drinking, obesity, and history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and head injury. Results: The prevalence of smell and taste dysfunction was 2.4% and 1.2%, respectively. Worse smell and taste dysfunction was associated with higher total cholesterol concentrations (P-trend = 0.005). No significant differences were observed in LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and TG concentrations across groups with different numbers of chemosensory dysfunctions (P-trend > 0.1 for all). The associations between chemosensory dysfunction and total cholesterol concentrations were more pronounced in participants aged ≤60 y and in thosewho were nonsmokers relative to their counterparts (P-interaction < 0.05 for all). Conclusions: In this large cross-sectional study, chemosensory dysfunction was associatedwith higher serum total cholesterol concentrations among Chinese adults. Prospective studies are needed to investigate the temporal relation between these chemosensory dysfunctions and hypercholesterolemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1546-1551
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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