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Adding salt to table food linked to higher risk of premature death – ScienceDaily


According to a study published in European Cardiac Journal today (Monday).

Compared to those who never or rarely added salt, those who always added salt to their food had a 28% higher risk of premature death. In the general population, about three out of every hundred people between the ages of 40 and 69 die prematurely. The increased risk of constant dietary salt addition seen in the current study suggests that one in every 100 people in this age group may die prematurely.

In addition, the study found a shorter life expectancy among people who always added salt compared to those who never or rarely added salt. At age 50, the average life expectancy of women and men who always added salt to their food was reduced by 1.5 years and 2.28 years, respectively, compared to those who never or rarely did so.

The researchers, led by Professor Lu Qi from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, US, say their findings have several implications for public health.

“To my knowledge, our study is the first to assess the association between added salt in food and premature death,” he said. “This provides new evidence to support recommendations for dietary changes to improve health. Even modest reductions in sodium intake by adding less or no salt to food at the table are likely to result in substantial health benefits, especially if achieved in the general population.” “.

Estimating total sodium intake is notoriously difficult, as many foods, especially pre-prepared and processed foods, are high in salt before they even reach the table. Studies that assess salt intake using urinalysis often take only a single urine test and therefore do not necessarily reflect normal behaviour. Also, foods high in salt are often accompanied by foods rich in potassium, such as fruits and vegetables, which is good for us [1]. Potassium is known to protect against the risk of heart disease and metabolic diseases such as diabetes, while sodium increases the risk of diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure and stroke.

For these reasons, the researchers decided to see whether people add salt to their food at the table, regardless of what salt is added during cooking.

“Adding salt to food at the table is a common eating behavior that is directly related to a person’s long-term preference for salty foods and habitual salt intake,” said Professor Qi. “In the Western diet, added table salt accounts for 6-20% of total salt intake and provides a unique way to assess the association between usual sodium intake and risk of death.”

Researchers analyzed data from 501,379 people who took part in the UK Biobank study. When participating in the study between 2006 and 2010, participants were asked via a touchscreen questionnaire whether they (i) never/rarely, (ii) sometimes, (iii) usually, (iv) always, or ( v) prefer not to answer. Those who chose not to answer were not included in the analysis. The researchers adjusted their analysis for factors that may affect the results, such as age, gender, race, deprivation, body mass index (BMI), smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, diet and co-morbidities such as diabetes, cancer and disease heart and blood vessels. They followed the participants for an average (average) of nine years. Premature death was defined as death before the age of 75 years.

In addition to finding that regular dietary salt intake was associated with a higher risk of premature death from all causes and shorter life expectancy, the researchers found that these risks tended to be slightly reduced in people who ate more fruits and vegetables, although these results were not statistically significant.

“We were not surprised by this finding, as fruits and vegetables are the main sources of potassium, which has a protective effect and is associated with a lower risk of premature death,” said Professor Tee.

He added: “As our study is the first to report an association between added dietary salt and mortality, more research is needed to confirm the findings before making recommendations.”

In an editorial to accompany the article [2]Professor Annika Rosengren, senior researcher and professor of medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who was not involved in the study, writes that the net effect of drastically reducing salt intake for people remains controversial.

“Given the various indications that very low sodium intake may be unhelpful or even harmful, it is important to distinguish individual-based recommendations from population-level actions,” she writes.

She concludes: “Classical epidemiology suggests that a greater net benefit is achieved with a population-wide approach (achieving a small effect in many people) than targeting people at high risk (a large effect but achieving only a small number of people) An obvious and evidence-based strategy in relation to the prevention of cardiovascular disease in humans, early detection and treatment of hypertension, including lifestyle modification, while strategies to reduce salt intake at the community level will reduce the average blood pressure in the population, resulting in that fewer people will develop hypertension, the need for treatment and the disease. “Not adding extra salt to the diet is unlikely to be harmful and may contribute to strategies to lower blood pressure levels in the population.”

A strength of Professor Qi’s study is the large number of people involved. It also has some limitations, which include: the possibility that added dietary salt is a marker of unhealthy lifestyle and lower socioeconomic status, although the analysis attempted to adjust for this; information on the amount of added salt was missing; added salt may be related to total energy intake and may be intertwined with intake of other foods; Participation in the UK Biobank is voluntary and the results are therefore not representative of the general population, so more research is needed to confirm the findings in other populations.

Professor Qi and his colleagues will conduct further research on the relationship between added salt in food and various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They also await potential clinical trials to test the impact of reducing added salt on health outcomes.

[1] An example of a usually salty food that also contains vegetables is tacos, which are often filled with beans and vegetables.

[2] “Salt’s sweet spot?” Annika Rosengren. European Cardiac Journal. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehac336

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