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New Study: Sodium Reduction Linked to Higher Mortality

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

(American Meat Institute)

The cardiovascular death rate is more than 50 percent higher among people who consume less salt, according to a new study published May 4 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was funded in part by European Union grants, the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium, the Polish Ministry for Science and Higher Education and the Czech Society of Hypertension. 

Researchers followed 3,681 study subjects for a median of 7.9 years and some as long as 23 years to reach their conclusions. 

“Taken together, our current findings refute the estimates of computer models of lives saved and health care costs reduced with lower salt intake. They do also not support the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction of salt intake at the population level,” wrote the authors.

The study’s abstract is available on the Journal of the American Medical Association’s website at: http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/305/17/1777.short

Despite the commonly held belief that sodium consumption has skyrocketed in the last 20 years and the decades of public education efforts warning Americans about adverse health risks associated with consuming high sodium diets, levels have remained virtually unchanged since 1957 according to a study by Harvard University reported on by the American Meat Institute in October, 2010. 

Thirty-eight 24-hour urine sodium excretion studies, published between 1957 and 2003, were analyzed in this systematic review by a multivariate random-effects model.  Sodium excretions were found to be unchanged throughout the study years.  In the last 50 years, Americans were found to consistently consume 3526 mg of sodium per day.  Researchers did note that sodium levels exceeded the recommended sodium intake levels of 2,300 mg/day for adults and 1,500 mg/day for those who are at risk or have high blood pressure. 

For more information about sodium’s role in meat and poultry products, an AMI Foundation video on the subject is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFUC_FujZ_8&feature=channel_video_title.  

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