Scientists affirm sodium reduction key to reducing heart disease

by Michel Joffres

(Medical Xpress)—Simon Fraser University health sciences professor Michel Joffres is among 34 of the world's leading scientists in their field who have been brought together to affirm the benefits of reducing population sodium intake to stem heart disease.

The American Heart Association and the New York City health department this week issued a joint news release citing the scientists' consensus.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death in Canada (after cancer).

An estimated 92,000 deaths could be averted annually in the U.S., the scientists say, and up to $24 billion in U.S. health care costs saved by reducing sodium intake.

"Canadian numbers are virtually the same, relative to our population," says Joffres, who has undertaken numerous studies on in Canada. He was also one of the lead authors of a 2013 study published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

"We found substantial benefits when sodium was reduced from current levels to that nearer to the guideline of 2,000 to 2,300 mg per day,' says Joffres, "to the tune of an estimated 280,000 – 500,000 North American lives saved over the next decade."

The recommended daily limit of sodium intake according to government dietary guidelines is 2,300 mg per day in the U.S. and 2,000 mg per day—roughly equivalent to one teaspoon of salt—in Canada. But the vast majority of North Americans average 3,400 mg per day. And nearly 80 per cent of sodium consumption comes not from the saltshaker but from packaged and restaurant food.

The scientists say sticking to recommendations is challenging because most of the sodium we eat comes from packaged foods.

"Decades of education and awareness about sodium reduction have not adequately moved the needle," said Elliott Antman, president-elect of the American Heart Association, noting that in order to make a difference in health, support for sodium reductions need to come from food manufacturers, food processors and the restaurant industry.

More information: For the complete release and the scientists' consensus statement see:

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1 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2014
What a shame! The salt debate has brought out the most ignoble conduct that medical practice has to offer – consensus as a deterrent to and replacement of evidence. The use of severely flawed models that selectively employ the small decline in blood pressure (1-5 mm systolic, 1 mm diastolic) in hypertensives, while totally ignoring the logarithmic rise in renin/aldosterone and the concomitant negative outcomes that result from major reductions in salt intake. While policy makers may occasionally be compelled to act in the face of scientific disputes and uncertainty, this is not a license to unremittingly deny all new evidence that contradicts the planned agenda - if not, we drift from science into dogma. This latest article is the latest reflection of the overwhelming dogma that may end up harming the public.

The dozen physicians around the world who are leading the charge against salt consumption all read from the same playbook, 1) Institute immediate ad hominem attacks against any and all individuals or institutions that make reference to any new evidence that contradicts the salt-reduction agenda, 2) Refer to all evidence supporting the salt-reduction agenda as trustworthy and all counter evidence as weak, flawed or inconsistent, 3) Where evidence is insufficient to support the salt-reduction agenda, immediately refer to "consensus" as a proxy for evidence, 4) Never, under any circumstance, concede the possibility of risk associated with population-wide salt reduction, 5) Whenever possible, try to associate salt with tobacco. It is a consistent pattern that turns up in every salt-reduction paper.

In fact, the behavior of the salt reduction advocates is neither new nor unique – it is simply a page taken out of the propagandists' playbook and is far more reflective of Goebbels than of Hippocrates.

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