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16 May 2008
Dangers Of High Salt Intake Pooh-Poohed

Contrary to long-held assumptions, high-salt diets may not actually increase the risk of death. In fact, a significantly increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease was found to be associated with a lower salt intake, say investigators from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. They report their findings in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

To arrive at their conclusion, the researchers analyzed data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which was conducted by the federal government among a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. These data were then compared against death records that had been collected by the government through the year 2000. The sample of approximately 8,700 represented American adults who were over 30 years of age at the time of the survey and were not on a special low-salt diet.

After adjusting for known cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes and blood pressure, the one-fourth of the sample who reported consuming the lowest amount of sodium were found to be 80 percent more likely to die from CVD compared to the one-fourth of the sample consuming the highest level of sodium.

"Our findings suggest that for the general adult population, higher sodium is very unlikely to be independently associated with higher risk of death from CVD or all other causes of death," says Dr. Hillel W. Cohen, lead author of the study. "Our findings do again raise questions about the usefulness, or even safety, of universal recommendations for lower salt diets for all individuals, regardless of their blood pressure status or other health characteristics."

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Source: Albert Einstein College of Medicine

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