Less salt, less strokes, says new research

August 12, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Speaking ahead of a United Nations High Level Meeting on non-communicable diseases, Professor Francesco Cappuccio from Warwick Medical School argues that lowering dietary salt intake has the potential to save millions of lives globally by substantially reducing levels of heart disease and strokes.

New research by Professor Cappuccio revealed this week in the shows that in the UK, a reduction of 3g per day would prevent up to 8,000 stroke deaths and up to 12,000 deaths per year.

A similar reduction in the USA would result in up to 120,000 fewer cases of coronary heart disease, up to 66,000 strokes and up to 99,000 heart attacks annually. It would also save up to $24 billion annually in .

The has set a global goal to reduce intake to less than 5g (about one teaspoon) per person per by 2025, yet salt intake in many countries is currently much higher than this. The average daily intake in the UK is currently just under 9g. The question, though, is not whether to reduce salt intake, but how to do so effectively?

Professor Cappuccio and his co-authors say that changing personal behaviour and choice alone is not an effective or realistic option when the majority of salt is added to food before it is sold and the commercial addition of salt to food is becoming a global trend.

A four-pronged approach is therefore required, they say, and should form the base for a comprehensive policy:

• Communication - establishing and evaluating public awareness campaigns
• Reformulation - setting progressive salt targets for reformulating existing processed food and engaging with the food industry in setting standards for new foods
• Monitoring - surveying population salt intake, progress of reformulation, and effectiveness of communication
• Regulation - engagement with industry, including regulation, to create a level playing field so as not to disadvantage more enlightened and progressive companies

Professor Cappuccio said: “The huge responsibility of food manufacturers in contributing to the epidemic of cardiovascular disease must be acknowledged.

“Prevention implemented through food reformulation and effective voluntary, market intervention or mandatory action throughout the industry is what needs to happen with society, governments, academia and health organisations all needing to play a part. However, denial and procrastination will be costly in terms of both avoidable illness and expenses,” he warned.

Explore further: Consuming a little less salt could mean fewer deaths

More information: The full article, printed in the BMJ on 12 August can be viewed here: www.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.d4995

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5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2011
It is difficult to reconcile these studies:

Scientific American: its-time-to-end-the-war-on-salt

"... a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure."

I expect that pretty soon, one side will call the other "deniers" and insinuate that they are all on some pay-roll or another.

1 / 5 (7) Aug 12, 2011
Lol evaitl, you haven't been here long enough. They already have. See recent articles on eggs and smoking.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2011
It is difficult to reconcile these studies:

They can't be reconciled because this study is meaningless:

This article states that the average daily intake of salt in the UK is slightly less than 9 grams. If half of the average salt intake in the UK is eliminated, the anticipated reduction in blood pressure is 2 to 5 systolic points and 1 to 2.7 diastolic points.

From the full article:
A 4.6 g reduction in daily dietary intake of salt (equivalent to a 1840 mg reduction in daily sodium) decreases blood pressure by about 5.0/2.7 mm Hg in individuals with hypertension and by 2.0/1.0 mm Hg in normotensive people.

The maximum reduction by reducing the consumption of salt by one half is 5 points. This is a meaningless difference.

A healthy human being can eliminate excess salt with little effort. Controlling salt intake is not necessary.

Efforts to control salt intake are just another chicken little story.

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