WASHINGTON, May 3, 2011- Medical research has again confirmed that cutting back on salt is hazardous to your health. A new, government-funded study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that even modest reductions in salt intake are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and deaths. The study debunks claims by the Food and Drug Administration and others pushing for population-wide reductions in salt consumption. In addition, the increased risk of death was evident within the range recommended by the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines on sodium, which means U.S. citizens who follow the dietary guidelines on sodium will be at risk. “We now know conclusively that the U.S. government’s war on salt consumption will cause harm,” said Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute. “This study confirms previous research indicating that reductions in sodium lead to an increased risk of disease and death. Therefore, we call on government agencies to stop their population-wide sodium reduction agenda and amend the Dietary Guidelines on sodium.”
The study in the May4, 2011 edition of JAMA concludes that lower sodium is associated with higher mortality. “Taken together, our current findings refute the estimates of computer model of lives saved and health care costs reduced with lower salt intakes. They do also not support the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction of salt intake at the population level,” wrote the authors.
Other studies have shown a greater risk for diabetes on a low sodium diet. A 2010 Harvard study linked low-salt diets to an increase in insulin resistance, the condition that is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
They have also shown that there is no link between hypotension and salt in U.S. population. If salt consumption and hypertension were linked, both would be rising. But a 2010 paper by two Harvard researchers shows that while hypertension has increased among Americans over the last 40 years, sodium consumption has remained flat.
A recent article in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests no matter how good the data produced that attacks old beliefs, it is ignored for years. Many will refuse to accept the new knowledge and they find that often, even after ten years, when an idea is completely discredited by good science, old ideas are hard to change!
So what can we do? I suggest switching from white table salt to sea salt and limit the intake to 4 grams or less per day.
 Salt Institute based in Alexandria, Virginia is a trade association dedicated to advocating the responsible use of salt.