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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs