Too much salt requires millions of deaths
High salt intake causes 1.65 million deaths?
Too much salt promotes the development of cardiovascular disease - this has been known for some time. How many people die each year due to their excessive salt intake, however, was still unclear. A research team led by Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard School of Public Health evaluated data from 66 countries and came to an alarming result: 99.2 percent of the world's population take too much salt. In 2010, 1.65 million people around the world died as a result of harmful salt concentrations in the blood.
Researchers looked at how high salt intake affects the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease
Salt not only gives many foods a pleasant spice, it also has a high addictive factor. So much more discipline is needed to just eat a few salted chips and put the rest aside than the unsalted counterpart. Many food manufacturers take advantage of this and add an extra portion of salt to some ready meals. This increases the business and at the same time only causes low costs. That the high salt content of fast food, chips and many other foods - even children's sausage often contains too much sodium - the health of their customers can hurt enormously, the manufacturers accept approvingly.
US researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health wanted to find out how much the health damage from too much salt actually is. To do so, they evaluated the data on sodium consumption from 66 countries and thus collected information from around 74 percent of the world's population. Sodium is contained in saline consisting of sodium chloride. The data used was based on urine tests, which provide much more accurate information than test subjects' statements about their dietary habits and illnesses.
In addition, the researchers performed two extensive analyzes to evaluate the effects of increased sodium intake. For this purpose, 107 different studies were analyzed, which dealt with the influence of sodium on blood pressure. There were also studies that looked at how high blood pressure affects the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Subsequently, all results were merged and interpreted.
More deaths from cardiovascular disease as a result of too much salt in men than in women
„In 2010, the estimated average amount of worldwide sodium consumption was 3.95 grams per day, and regional averages ranged from 2.18 to 5.51 grams per day“, the researchers write in the journal „The New Endland Journal of Medicine“. However, according to recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), a sodium amount of two grams per day should not be exceeded. According to the analysis, 99.2 percent of the world's population consume too much sodium. „Worldwide, 1.65 million annual deaths from cardiovascular disease have been associated with sodium intake above the reference level. 61.9 percent of these deaths occurred in men and 38.1 percent in women“, The researchers continue to report. „These deaths accounted for nearly one in ten cardiovascular deaths. Four out of five deaths (84.3 percent) occurred to low-to-middle-income countries and two out of every five deaths (40.4 percent) prematurely (before the age of 70).“ The lowest levels of sodium consumption reached sub-Saharan Africa. „The rate of death in cardiovascular disease associated with increased sodium intake was highest in Georgia and lowest in Kenya“, it says in the trade magazine.
The results of the researchers suggest that a sodium reduction of 2.3 grams per day, equivalent to a salt level of about 5.8 grams, would result in a 3.82 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure. The evaluation showed that this effect was particularly noticeable in older people and hypertensive patients.
Almost 21,000 deaths from high salt intake in Germany alone
According to the study, the average intake of sodium in Germany at 3.6 grams per day was somewhat lower than that of the total population, but in 2010 nearly 21,000 people died due to cardiovascular complaints, which are associated with increased salt consumption.
Yet, Harvard researchers' data can not prove a direct correlation between increased salt intake and deaths. To prove this, subjects would have to be followed for several years and the impact of sodium consumption on mortality examined. Nevertheless, a connection is obvious, explains Michael Leitzmann, director of the Institute for Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at the University of Regensburg „Mirror online“. „There is convincing scientific evidence for the relationship between sodium intake and hypertension. The evidence for the relationship between high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease is convincing. "Therefore, a relationship between the sodium intake, a blood pressure increase and cardiovascular disease can be considered safe.
„Martin Middeke, head of the Munich Hypertension Center told the online magazine that this study fits into the picture of previous investigations, „however, the overwhelming majority of experts believe that saline is a risk factor for high blood pressure and associated diseases. "Middeke is in favor of reducing salt intake. „I think it makes sense to recommend a reduced salt intake not only to people with high blood pressure, but also to the general population. "According to the researchers, about 5 grams per day are safe for health. „Anyone who consumes so little salt does not have to restrict himself further, "explains Middeke, but this applies to very few in Germany.
Picture: günther gumhold