THE LANCET medical journal has published the paper, “Urinary sodium excretion, blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and mortality: a community-level prospective epidemiological cohort study” by (first author) Dr. Andrew Mente, with Martin O’Donnell, and other members of the PURE study team at Population Health Research Institute.
The same day the medical journal published the piece looking at the effect of sodium (salt) intake on cardiovascular disease, The Guardian: International Edition wrote about the study results.
The new research, led by PHRI with research colleagues in 21 countries, shows that for the vast majority of individuals, sodium consumption does not increase health risks except for those who eat more than five grams a day, the equivalent of 2.5 teaspoons of salt. Fewer than five per cent of individuals in developed countries exceed that level.
The study followed 94,000 people, aged 35 to 70, for an average of eight years in communities from 18 countries around the world and found there an associated risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes only where the average intake is greater than five grams of sodium a day.
China is the only country in their study where 80 per cent of communities have a sodium intake of more than five grams a day. In the other countries, the majority of the communities had an average sodium consumption of 3 to 5 grams a day (equivalent to 1.5 to 2.5 teaspoons of salt).
The large, international study also shows that even for those individuals there is good news. Any health risk of sodium intake is virtually eliminated if people improve their diet quality by adding fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, potatoes, and other potassium rich foods.
Martin O’Donnell, co-author of the report, a PHRI researcher and an associate clinical professor of medicine at McMaster University, notes that most previous studies relating sodium intake to heart disease and stroke were based on individual-level information. He adds, “there is no convincing evidence that people with moderate or average sodium intake need to reduce their sodium intake for prevention of heart disease and stroke.”