Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On Salt

Today's New York Times discusses the "War on Salt" and references a "study" that estimates 150,000 lives would be saved by 2010 if we could get people to stop eating so much salt:
In 2004, researchers at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute published a study in The American Journal of Public Health concluding that 150,000 lives could be saved annually if sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods were cut in half.
For the record, there is no such study. The "study" was actually an editorial by Dr. Stephen Havas, the lead author and his comments are conjecture. The exact words from his editorial:
Recognizing the importance of action on this issue, the American Public Health Association adopted a policy resolution at its November 2002 annual meeting calling for a 50% reduction in sodium in processed and restaurant foods over the next 10 years. New JNC VII guidelines have endorsed this resolution. We estimate that, when fully implemented, this reduction will result in at least a 5 mm Hg decrease in systolic blood pressure levels, a 20% reduction in the prevalence of hypertension, and 150 000 fewer deaths.
While I agree that lowering sodium content in food is important to control blood pressure, I take issue with government intervention on calling salt "dangerous." In all my years as a physician, I have never seen "Cause of Death: Salt" listed on a death certificate. If we go there, then "sugar" is equally "dangerous" due to the lives lost from obesity. We need more patient education here, not more government intervention.



Sissy Willis said...

You mustn't try to confuse the p.c., agenda-driven New York Times with facts.

Moof said...

The voice of sanity and reason! Thank you Dr. Wes! :o)