Excessive Salt Intake Linked to 10% of All Deaths



A new study finds that 1 in 10 deaths in the United States are linked to excessive salt intake.


 

EXCESSIVE SALT INTAKE LINKED TO 10% OF ALL DEATHS

In the United States, and throughout much of the world, salt is liberally used as a seasoning for many types of food. Unfortunately, however, the salt content of most prepared foods (and fast foods and processed foods in particular) far exceeds the daily recommended allowance of 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day, or less than a teaspoon of salt per day, as recommended by the American Heart Association.

Excessive salt intake has been linked to a variety of serious health problems, including congestive heart failure, heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease. Additionally, as I discuss in detail in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, excessive salt intake also increases the risk of certain types of cancer as well.

At the ongoing annual meeting of the American Heart Association, in New Orleans, newly presented research data strongly suggests that at least 10 percent of all deaths in the United States, and as many as 15 percent of deaths worldwide, are related to excessive salt consumption. The data from this study was collected as part of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, which was performed by an international collaborative network of researchers from 303 institutions in 50 different countries. In addition to collecting salt intake data from participating research volunteers, the scientists conducting this public health research study also analyzed more than 100 previously published prospective randomized clinical research trials linking specific levels of salt intake with adverse health outcomes.

Based upon data collected in this important new public health study, the researchers calculated that excessive salt intake directly contributes to 1 out of every 10 deaths in the United States (and 1 out of every 7 deaths worldwide). According to the findings of this study, 60 percent of salt-associated deaths occur in men, and 40 percent occur in women; and heart attacks cause 42 percent of salt-associated deaths, while strokes cause 41 percent of salt-associated deaths.

Although humans appear to be biologically programmed to seek out salty foods, the unnaturally high salt content of most prepared and processed foods today means that we are ingesting far greater amounts of salt, on a daily basis, than our bodies require (or were designed to handle). As a consequence of this salty evolution of our “modern” diets, our bodies are at risk of becoming overloaded with salt, and the increased amount of fluid that this salt causes our bodies to retain. The end result, for a shocking percentage of people around the world, based upon the findings of this study, is an increased risk of congestive heart failure, heart attack, stroke and kidney disease, and a significantly increased risk of premature death due to these illnesses. Additionally, as I discuss in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, high salt intake has also been clearly linked to an increased risk of several deadly types of cancer in the gastrointestinal tract.

To help you to decrease excessive salt intake, I recommend the American Heart Association’s online guide on this topic.

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!


Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

 

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At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, more than 2.7 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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Dietary Salt (Sodium) Increases Stomach Cancer Risk

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Welcome to Weekly Health Update


“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”


DIETARY SALT (SODIUM) INCREASES STOMACH CANCER RISK

 

Cancer of the stomach occurs only about half as commonly today in the United States as it did 30 years ago, but it remains one of the “bad actor” cancers that are associated with a high likelihood of death.  On a global scale, stomach cancer remains the #2 cause of cancer-associated death, while in the United States, gastric cancer is currently the #7 cause of cancer-associated death.

Known risk factors for stomach cancer include chronic infection with the Helicobacter pylori bacterium (and other causes of chronic gastric inflammation), smoking, obesity, decreased acid secretion within the stomach, stomach ulcers, pernicious anemia, a family history of stomach cancer, certain inherited cancer syndromes, and other less common risk factors.  As with other GI tract cancers, diet also appears to play an important role in gastric cancer risk.  For example, gastric cancer is more common among people who eat a lot of processed meat and red meat, smoked foods, and salt-cured or pickled foods.  On the other hand, stomach cancer is less common among people who consume a large amount of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The role of salt in gastric cancer risk has been a subject of some debate, as clinical research studies have come to varying and contradictory conclusions regarding this issue.  However, a newly published public health study, which appears in the current issue of the British Journal of Cancer, appears to strongly link excess salt consumption with an increased risk of developing stomach cancer.  In this case-control study, 442 patients with stomach cancer, and 649 healthy patients without any clinical evidence of cancer, were evaluated.  Multiple previously validated dietary questionnaires were administered to all of the study volunteers, with particular attention to dietary salt intake. 

The results of this public health study indicated that the risk of stomach cancer was twice as common among patients who regularly consumed the highest amounts of salt, when compared to patients with the smallest amount of regular salt intake.  After adjusting for other risk factors known to be associated with gastric cancer risk (including Helicobacter pylori status, smoking history, and other known gastric cancer risk factors), increased salt intake was still associated with a doubling of gastric cancer risk. 

While case-control studies, such as this one, do not offer high-level clinical research evidence (unlike the “gold standard” prospective, randomized, blinded clinical research trials that provide “Level 1” clinical research data), the findings of this observational study nonetheless add to an increasing volume of data linking increased salt intake with gastric cancer risk.

Excessive salt intake has also been clearly linked to a significant increase in the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.  Most hypertension experts are currently recommending that we lower our average daily intake of sodium, from the current 3,500 to 4,000 milligram (mg) per day level in the United States, to somewhere around 1,500 mg per day.  At this level of sodium intake reduction, significant improvements in high blood pressure, and in the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, have been demonstrated by multiple high-quality clinical research studies.  (An excellent pamphlet on the topic of dietary sodium reduction, as part of a heart-healthy diet, has been published online by the National Institutes of Health.)    

As with many other dietary and lifestyle factors that have been shown to reduce cancer risk, reducing sodium intake, by reducing your dietary salt consumption, can pay big health dividends not only in terms of cancer risk reduction, but also in terms of reducing those other great global killers of mankind, cardiovascular disease and stroke!

 

 

For a complete discussion of the role of diet in cancer prevention, and other important evidence-based approaches to cancer prevention, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, now!  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!   

 

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books!  On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list! 



Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity




Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author




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Salt (Sodium) Intake, Stroke & Cardiovascular Disease

December 6, 2009 by  
Filed under diet, health, heart disease, Nutrition, stroke

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



 

“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”


 

Salt (Sodium) Intake, Stroke & Cardiovascular Disease

 

 

Table salt consists of the elements sodium and chloride, both of which are essential for life.  There is a great deal of clinical research suggesting that more than 5 to 6 grams of salt intake per day (which is equal to 2 to 2.4 grams of sodium)  is associated with a significant increase in the risk of developing high blood pressure which, in turn, is associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.  Unfortunately, in most countries, the average daily salt intake for adults is considerably greater than 6 grams per day.  Moreover, in many countries of the world, the average daily adult intake of salt is a whopping 12 grams per day, or almost 5 grams of sodium per day. 

 

In the United States, the American Heart Association (AHA) currently recommends no more than 2.3 grams of sodium intake per day (equivalent to 5 grams, or about one teaspoon, of salt per day).  At the same time, the AHA also states that the ideal daily intake of sodium should actually be about 1.5 grams per day but, in an acknowledgment regarding the high intake of salt-rich processed foods in the United States, the AHA considers the 2.3 gram per day dietary sodium target to be more “realistic” for Americans.

 

There is considerable public health research data suggesting that the reduction of average daily adult salt intake, to 6 grams per day, or less, would result in a significant lowering of blood pressure in both people with and without high blood pressure.  Based upon these research findings, some public health experts have predicted that lowering the average daily salt intake below 6 grams per day could reduce the incidence of stroke by almost 25 percent, and the incidence of cardiovascular disease by almost 20 percent.  Unfortunately, there have not been any large-scale prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical research trials performed to validate these estimates.  On the other hand, there have been multiple short-term prospective public health trials that have followed groups (cohorts) of patients in terms of their dietary intake of salt and the incidence of stroke and cardiovascular disease events.  Now, a newly published research study, in the British Medical Journal, has performed a meta-analysis of 13 of these “prospective cohort” studies, encompassing a total of 177,025 patient volunteers, with average durations of patient follow-up ranging from 4 to 19 years.  (Meta-analysis is a method of combining the data from multiple different clinical studies into a single “super-study,” in an effort to improve the validity of the resulting data, as well as the conclusions that are reached from such data.)

 

Among these more than 177,000 patient volunteers, there were 11,000 “vascular events” observed, including stroke and heart attacks (myocardial infarctions).  When the incidence of these vascular events was analyzed, along with dietary salt intake, the patients with the highest daily salt intake were observed to experience a 23 percent greater risk of stroke, and a 17 percent greater risk of cardiovascular disease, when compared to the adults who consumed less salt on a daily basis.

 

The increasing consumption of salt-rich processed foods throughout both the developed and underdeveloped countries of the world has been pushing daily salt intake to ever higher levels, with many Western countries reporting average daily adult salt intake of nearly 10 grams per day.  In other countries, and most notably in Asia and Eastern Europe, dietary practices that include a high concentration of heavily salted foods have pushed daily salt intake into the 10 to 12 gram per day range for the average adult.

 

The World Heart Federation estimates that there are 5.5 million annual deaths from stroke across the globe, and an additional 17.5 million annual deaths from cardiovascular disease.  Based upon the increased incidence of stroke and cardiovascular disease predicted by this meta-analysis study, even a rather modest decrease in the average adult daily salt intake, to the World Health Organization’s target of 5 grams per day, should result in 1.25 million fewer deaths per year from stroke and nearly 3 million fewer annual deaths from cardiovascular disease around the world.  Needless to say, this is a tremendous potential public health dividend from a rather simple alteration in our dietary habits.  (On the surface, reducing our daily salt intake would appear to be a rather simple goal.  However, the more complicated reality is that to achieve even the World Health Organization’s rather liberal target of 5 grams of salt per day, our entire food chain would have to be comprehensively reexamined and overhauled.) 

 

The world’s increasing consumption of highly-processed foods, which often contain high levels of salt as a preservative, are largely responsible for the high levels of salt intake in the developed world (in addition to a preference for salt-cured foods in much of Asia and Eastern Europe).  In the United States, the sodium content of most processed foods is readily available on food packages.  Unfortunately, most restaurants in the United States have not been as forthcoming about the sodium content of the food on their menus (as well as other important nutritional information), and so it continues to be very difficult to determine the actual salt content of much of what we eat here in the United States and, indeed, throughout much of the world.

 

 

 

Note:  Weekly Health Update is currently undergoing an extensive upgrade to better serve its tens of thousands of health-conscious readers around the world.  Beginning in January 2010, newly archived columns will be available by selecting the “Archives” tab on the right side of your screen (all archived columns prior to January 2010 will continue to be available by selecting the “Archives 2007-2009” tab at the top of the screen.)


 


Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author

 

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