"Where's the outrage?" responded the leader of the salt industry's trade association upon publication of another study documenting either no health benefit of low-salt diets or actually higher risks for those who cut back on dietary salt. In this case, Americans who consumed the currently-recommended 2,300 mg/day of sodium had a 37% higher cardiovascular mortality rate.
Responding to publication this week of an analysis of federal data in The American Journal of Medicine by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, Salt Institute president Richard L. Hanneman hailed the "clinical implications" identified by the authors (bullets are a direct quote from the paper):
- Dietary guidelines recommend sodium restriction despite absence of clinical trial data.
- This observational study found significant associations of lower sodium with increased cardiovascular disease mortality.
- No subgroup was observed to experience benefit from lower sodium diet.
- These data suggest the safety and effectiveness of lower dietary sodium merit further study.
"What is astounding is that this direct challenge to our current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, by prominent researchers including the current president of the International Society of Hypertension, is only the latest in a series of studies consistently showing that cutting back salt intake neither lowers the risk of heart attacks nor reduces cardiovascular deaths, and that this study, like its predecessors has not provoked public outrage," said Hanneman. "We are putting pressure on consumers and the food industry to cut salt with absolutely nothing but a theory that it will improve health. None of the data support salt reduction. It's outrageous."
The Salt Institute endorsed the authors' recitation of the Cochrane Collaboration conclusion ("To date there have been no clinical trials with sufficient data to lend support one way or the other regarding the effect of sodium restriction on CVD morbidity or mortality") and the authors' own conclusion: "These finding highlight the need for further studies that go beyond intermediate outcomes like blood pressure, to convincingly establish the relation of dietary sodium to mortality."
For more information, contact Dick Hanneman at the Salt Institute, Alexandria, Va; (703) 549-4648 (office), (571) 331-7563 (cell).