News / Health

Salt Study Discredited By Medical Experts

U.S. public health officials say the upper limit of salt consumption should be 2,300 milligrams per day. The American Heart Association says that it should be no more than 1,500 milligrams. The Salt Institute says 2,300 milligrams is far too little.
U.S. public health officials say the upper limit of salt consumption should be 2,300 milligrams per day. The American Heart Association says that it should be no more than 1,500 milligrams. The Salt Institute says 2,300 milligrams is far too little.

Multimedia

A new study published in a respected American medical journal concludes that low-salt diets could lead to heart disease.  U.S. public health officials say Americans are eating too much salt. The study caused a controversy about how much salt is OK and how much is too much.  

The controversy began when a study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association contradicted long-standing advice from public health officials and medical specialists on heart disease, stroke and recommended salt consumption.

The study involved more than 3,600 men and women and followed them for eight years until the participants were about 49-years-old. When the data was analyzed, those who consumed the lowest amounts of salt turned out to be the most likely to die from cardiovascular disease. The study also reports that salt consumption did not cause high blood pressure for some 2,000 participants whose blood pressure was normal at the start of the study.

The study was hailed by the U.S. salt industry.  Lori Roman is president of the Salt Institute, the industry's research arm.  "The evidence continues to mount...that reducing sodium can cause great harm,” she said. “And that salt reduction as a strategy to reduce blood pressure is not the best choice."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publicly criticized the salt study, something the federal health agency rarely does.  The CDC's Dr. Peter Briss says one study does not change the evidence against salt.

"Salt increases blood pressure.  More salt leads to higher blood pressure and higher blood pressure leads to worse cardiovascular health," said Dr. Briss. He said the study was too small, and the participants too young.  He added that some of the participants who died were heavy smokers.  Dr. Briss said there is no evidence that reducing salt is harmful, a point echoed by Dr. Stephen Havas, an expert on cardiovascular disease.

"You have to put this study in the context of how much evidence is out there. The World Health Organization referred to the evidence on the harmful effects of sodium as being conclusive," said Dr. Havas.

In medical research, the word 'conclusive' is rarely used.  In the U.S., warnings on packages of cigarettes say they can cause lung cancer and heart disease.  But a majority of doctors agree that eating too much salt will cause cardiovascular disease.

U.S. public health officials say the upper limit of salt consumption should be 2,300 milligrams per day. The American Heart Association says that it should be no more than 1,500 milligrams.

The Salt Institute says 2,300 milligrams is far too little. "People consume in a very normal and natural range of sodium - somewhere between 2,500 and 4,500 milligrams a day is very normal and natural," said Roman.

"You risk having a stroke, you risk having a heart attack if you are consuming as much salt as the Salt Institute is recommending," Dr. Havas stated.

As for the study itself, Dr. Havas says it is weak and its methodology flawed. Public health officials are concerned that it was published in a prominent American medical journal.  "It just confuses the public,” he said. “It shouldn’t have gotten out there.  Certainly should not have gotten out in a prestigious journal."

The Salt Institute says it would like to see the study repeated. The medical community maintains people should limit their intake of salt, and while doing that, follow a healthy diet, exercise and if overweight, loose at least some of the excess.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid