Nanny State

Could Eating Less Salt Be Deadly?

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Last week, discussing the Federal Trade Commission's call for slashing the sodium content of food marketed to children, I noted that the scientific case for population-wide reductions in salt consumption is pretty shaky. A new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association reinforces that point. The researchers, led by Jan Staessen, a professor of medicine at the University of Leuven in Belgium, tracked 3,681 middle-aged Europeans for an average of eight years, measuring their daily sodium intake through urine collected at the beginning and the end of the study. None of the subjects had high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease at the outset. But over the course of the study, those who consumed less salt were more likely to die of heart disease: There were 50 such deaths in the lowest third, compared to 24 in the middle third and 10 in the highest third. The subjects who consumed more salt did have slightly higher blood pressure, but they were no more likely to develop hypertension. "If the goal is to prevent hypertension" by reducing sodium consumption, Staessen told The New York Times, "this study shows it does not work."

Is it plausible that eating less salt could be harmful? "If one lowers sodium intake to lower blood pressure," says Staessen, "this change in sodium activates several systems (including the renin-angiotensin aldosterone system) that conserve sodium, and those systems are implicated in disease processes such as damaging the arterial wall and kidneys." Michael Alderman, who edits the American Journal of Hypertension, also worries that sharply reducing sodium intake, while good advice for people with high blood pressure, could raise the risk of cardiovascular disease in the rest of the population, perhaps by increasing insulin resistance. His own research has generated  results similar to Staessen's. "Diet is a complicated business," he told the Times. "There are going to be unintended consequences."

Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were quick to defend the low-salt orthodoxy, noting that Staessen's study did not randomly assign subjects to different diets. While such studies have found that eating less salt reduces blood pressure, they have not lasted long enough to measure the impact on mortality. What's needed, Alderman says, is a large, long-term experiment in which subjects are randomly assigned to diets with different levels of sodium. Low-salt loyalists say such research is too expensive and difficult to conduct. They argue that it would be impractical to make sure that subjects in the low-salt group stick to their restrictive diets for years. Alderman points out the contradiction:

The low-salt advocates suggest that all 300 million Americans be subjected to a low-salt diet. But if they can't get people on a low-salt diet for a clinical trial, what are they talking about?…It will cost money, but that's why we do science. It will also cost money to change the composition of food.

The CDC says no one should consume more than 2,300 milligrams a day, while anyone over 50 should adhere to a 1,500-milligram limit. Since the average daily intake is 3,436 milligrams, these guidelines would require dramatic reductions. Whether or not eating less salt is dangerous, there is no reason to expect the entire population to adopt a diet that even its advocates concede they will not like if it benefits only a minority.

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  1. Isn’t this KM-W’s turf?

  2. Could Eating Less Salt Be Deadly?

    It doesn’t matter, their intentions are good.

  3. Could Eating Less Salt Be Deadly?

    Yes.

    1. Extra points for getting the Shat into the conversation.

      1. He’s part of all conversations.

    2. That was my first thought. Well done.

    3. Huge plot hole. You can’t tell me all those years ago when Bones was dating Nancy that he didn’t know she was actually a salt monster.

      1. In re: Nancy. She’s dead Jim. Thats a shapeshifting alien impersonating her.

      2. He’s a known pervert. That’s why they call him Bones.

      3. The salt monster ate Nancy and then pretended to be her for the archaeologist’s jollies and salt tablet hookup.

        1. I think he’s doing Calvin’s dad.

        2. Then he should have gone back in time and pushed her in front of a car like Kirk did to Joan Collins.

        3. Nancy’s hungry, send down some redshirts.

      4. Was Nancy the nurse? And if so, is their dating ethical with respect to the Star Fleet Intergalactic Code of Conduct?

  4. If Jacob Sullum pulled his ass out of his head, would it hurt?

    1. Or maybe I should pull my head out of my ass.

      1. Almost all libertarians have the heads up their asses. Jacob Sullum is different: he has his ass in his head. His breath is almost as bad as his writing.

        1. arf!arf!arf!arf!arf!arf!arf!

          1. Max has made his last post|11.17.10 @ 7:20PM|#
            Max|6.24.10 @ 3:29PM|#

            Go suck ron puals dick, morons. You peeple are fucking retarded. I`m done coming to this wingnut sight. this is my last post.

            1. Really? Sweet.

            2. What you fail to realize is that Max is a position, not a person, sort of like the Dread Pirate Roberts. That particular Max did indeed stop posting here, but he passed the mantle of Max on to a promising up-and-coming troll.

  5. The main point of discussion was the prevalence of anaemia in majority of India’s population, particularly among adolescent girls, women and children. Anaemia is caused by inadequate intake and poor absorption of iron. Anaemia can be prevented and cured by promoting consumption of iron rich foods and iron supplements. One cost effective way of increasing the intake of iron is fortification of salt with iron in addition to iodine.
    http://www.newkerala.com/news/…..93749.html

    I was writing about the possibility of NYC ban on salt causing a ‘pocket’ of anemia

  6. Government says so so it must be true.

  7. There’s no group of people on earth I tune out faster than the “experts” who lecture us about what we should and shouldn’t eat.

    Most of these people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, and these aren’t universal rules that apply equally to everyone anyway.

  8. The main point of discussion was the prevalence of anaemia in majority of India’s population, particularly among adolescent girls, women and children. Anaemia is caused by inadequate intake and poor absorption of iron. Anaemia can be prevented and cured by promoting consumption of iron rich foods and iron supplements. One cost effective way of increasing the intake of iron is fortification of salt with iron in addition to iodine.

    I was writing about the possibility of NYC ban on salt causing a pocket of anemia

    1. No one cares, rectal.

    2. Why do people insist on insulting Rather even when she says something reasonable?

      1. The same reason no one listened to Wesley Crusher.

        1. i did & this involves health. so STFU

      2. Fuck off, rather.

    3. AFAIK, iron fortified salt is not widely used in the US, so no, a salt ban probably wouldn’t affect anemia rates.

      It may be widely used in New York, but I haven’t heard about it.

      1. I considered that NYC would have a large ethnic population that purchases foreign made products that do contain fortified salt.

  9. NEWS FLASH: WE ARE ALL DYING

    Everything we do is just a trade off on enjoyment of life versus prolongation of it. How the hell does the government know how much I should value my time?

    1. tough to enjoy life if you can’t use the right half of your body because you suffered a stroke.

      1. tough to enjoy life if you can’t use the right half of your body because you suffered a stroke with a god damned nanny up your ass 24/7.

    2. And once you make that choice you could be run over by that proverbial bus everyone is always talking about, or felled by a blood clot you picked up on that last flight from Boston to LA, or, well you get my drift.

    3. Government discovers entropy sucks. News at 11.

  10. I know this is an insane idea and all, but how about when I get examined by my doctor we discuss the amount of sodium in my system and its effect on me specifically, and whether or not I need to adjust my intake or my diet.

    Just spitballing here…

    1. All your doctors are belong to us.

    2. but you can’t enforce a government policy based on that!

  11. Salt is delicious. Salt is cheap.

    I am in perfectly adequate physical health.

    If that changes I will consider making changes to my diet. Until then, fuck you.

    1. Fuck who?

  12. Most of the current health orthodoxy (fat and salt are bad, etc.) came from the 70’s and 80’s, yet the morons in government still stick to it even as the science has changed (not that there was much science behind it in the first place). Why would anyone listen to them? In fact, I doubt that many people do.

    1. “Why would anyone listen to them? In fact, I doubt that many people do.”

      You’ll listen to them once they drive private health insurance out of business and become the gatekeepers to your access to health care.
      Doctors will do what they say because if they don’t then they won’t get paid.
      You’ll do what they say because if you don’t they won’t grant you access to a doctor.

      It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about control.

      They don’t care if they’re right or wrong, they only care about people doing what they say.

  13. The CAKE SALT is a lie.

    1. There will be a party with all your friends and coworkers. We will have french fries and salt.

  14. Bethlem Royal Hospital
    Even on a list of American insane asylums, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Bethlem Royal Hospital in London. Bethlem, the world’s oldest institution specializing in the mentally ill, started admitting unbalanced patients in 1357. Throughout most of its history the conditions in the asylum were atrocious. For example, in the 18th century the public could pay a penny for the privilege of watching the “freaks”; they were even permitted to poke the caged patients with a long stick.

    As an indication of what a house of horrors Bethlem Royal Hospital was, the word bedlam is derived from its name.

    http://www.asylum.com/2010/02/…..e-asylums/

    IIRC, a member of the royal family petitioned for the end of this treatment

    1. WTF? Is he meaning to post what he (i’m assuming gender) posted here? Does this make sense in the context of SALT!

      1. It’s a she. Technically. Takes a good bit of flour and rolling around to confirm it though.

        1. ***Hoark***

      2. She posted this on another thread. I assume it just got on here accidentally.

        1. Fuck off, rather.

    2. Just think how far we’ve come! Now, anybody with an internet connection can poke freaks with sticks for free!

      rather will demonstrate her attempt at this again shortly, I’m sure.

  15. Mister waffles gave me a salt lick so I can stay at the keyboard longer without getting bored or licking the monitor too much. Salt is also good for throwing over your left shoulder and rubbing in papercuts.

    I think salt has been maligned by people who think they should control what we eat. If salt is so bad then why does it taste good? Salt was also a movie that I didn’t see because it looked awful. I would rather pour rock salt on a fresh wound that watch Salt. This is another sentence with the word “salt” in it.

    Also, what besides salt tastes salty? Is there a splenda/nutrasweet for salt? Do diabetics like salt? Salt. Salt salt salt.

    1. “Is there a splenda/nutrasweet for salt?”

      Sure. I think salt substitute is potassium chloride. The sodium is what experts think is bad for you.

      1. Potassium chloride is also used to execute criminals, and occasionally to induce abortions. You can look it up.

        1. Everything is poisonous if you eat enough of it. The question is what counts as “enough”. Oral LD50 (Lethal Dose for 50% of the population) for sodium chloride is 3 to 8 grams per kilogram of body mass; oral LD50 for potassium chloride is 2.6 grams per kilogram. Worse, but not “OMG it’ll execute you!” worse, especially if you actually consume your food orally rather than injecting it.

          1. Worse, but not “OMG it’ll execute you!” worse, especially if you actually consume your food orally rather than injecting it.

            Yeah, I don’t know why people insist on bringing this up every time salt substitutes are mentioned. There’s enough potassium in a steak to kill you if injected IV, but nobody worrys about that.

            Slow absorption from the gut and direct IV injection are completely different, especially when discussing ions like potassium. If you have functional kidneys, it is virtually impossible to overdose on potassium orally.

    2. I feel emotionally and mentally a-salt-ed after reading that

    3. Yep, be glad to didn’t waste any of your salting time on that piece of salt movie. Angelina Salting Jolie punched someone after jumping sideways off of a salting wall… A SALTING WALL! Do they now know a salt about physics! All of the salting force of a punch is generated from salting hips and salting legs pushing off the mother salting ground!

      1. If we’re going to talk about sins against physics in Jolie movies, that stupid shit about curving a bullet’s path by waving a pistol around has to be at the top of the list.

  16. My doctor recommended I cut my salt intake, so I’ve requested that all my johns drop their loads on my face and in my hair, but not in my mouth. I’m writing a blog entry about it right now!

    1. they’re not johns if you have to wear a mask of bea arthur

      1. You’ll have to ask Johnny Longtorso how much extra the Bea Arthur mask costs, shep. I have a suspicion he knows…

    2. wait that wasnt a freebie ?

    3. You won’t get as much of the anti-depressant effect that way.

  17. I don’t really care what the government recommends. We are free to ignore that. It’s when their “recommendations” lead to mandates and legislation (or taxes/subsidies) that is the problem.

    But this is kind of moot, since it’s impossible for the average American to reduce their salt intake to the recommended levels. There is salt added to everything…in addition to the sodium already present.

    I’ve made a serious effort to reduce my intake by reading labels and food choices, and after 3 weeks of spreadhseets, I figured out the only way I could “reasonably” lower my sodium intake to 2300 would be to lower my calorie intake to 1500 or below.

    1. On the plus side, I’ve lost around 25 pounds.

    2. Eat less prepared food. Of course, this means you spend more time at the grocery store and more time cooking, so it’s a trade off.

    3. THIS^^

      Back in th late 70’s, I worked with a Ph.D. hired by Morton (the salt company) to determine just how much salt Americans consumed. Morton’s hope was that the study would provide insights into where salt in the diet could be increased (#4: Profit!). To Morton’s dismay, the study determined that the average American consumed twenty times as much salt as was required by the body.

  18. If I could find my thick file of expert health claims, I could staple this story to the great salt hoax. For my health, I assume that everything that they’ve ever told me is the opposite of the truth.

  19. If these anti-salt fanatics succeed in forcing food companies and restaurants to drastically lower salt content, it’s going to make things that much harder for those of us who require a high-salt diet.
    I have Addison’s disease; I need all the salt I can get.

    1. So buy extra salt and carry some with you, you clueless fucking dimwit.

    2. And go scuk ron Pals dick while your at it, fuking dimwti

      1. And go scuk ron Pals dick while your at it, fuking dimwti

        A sad anecdote on the state of public education…

      2. so?ci?o?path
        ? ??so? si ??p??,?so? ?i-Show Spelled[soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-] Show IPA
        ?noun Psychiatry .
        a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

        1. If Max had it his way, the government would declare the ocean (up to international waters, of course) to be in violation of the law because it has too much salt. And then he would fine it and threaten to incarcerate it if it didn’t pay the fine.

  20. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, low-salt tomato juice (or V8) is goddamned nasty. It’s impossible to make a decent bloody mary with that low-sodium dreck.

  21. Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, (2011), feb; 66a(2): 179-182

    Abstract:
    In the past, it has been assumed that all the biological and medical changes that occur in old age are deleterious. It has therefore been concluded that treatment and prevention of such changes in old age should increase health span and delay death. However, accruing epidemiological and clinical trial evidence in older humans suggests that this is not the case. Some studies have shown that antioxidants and hormone supplements increase mortality, whereas high blood pressure, obesity, and metabolic syndrome are often associated with improved outcomes in very elderly people. Perhaps, some of these supposedly detrimental changes accompanying old age are in fact evolutionary adaptations to prolong life after reproduction in humans. Indeed, a form of reverse antagonistic pleiotropy or adaptive senectitude might be occurring. Some common biological and medical changes in old age might actually enhance longevity and represent novel targets for improving health in older people.

    My point is that medical orthodoxy doesn’t always fit with every circumstance. The feds top down policies as it relates to what is ‘healthy’ can be incongruent to what actually makes someone live longer and without morbidity.

    1. Perhaps, some of these supposedly detrimental changes accompanying old age are in fact evolutionary adaptations to prolong life after reproduction in humans.

      Ummm, no. Once you stop breeding and your kids are old enough to survive on their own, it doesn’t matter what genes you have, evolution-wise. A body’s fine-tuned set of tradeoffs isn’t going to evolve to promote the survival of a reproductive dead end.

      The more likely explanation is that our bodies start falling apart as we age because the tradeoffs to optimize health and reproductive success when one is young has adverse consequences when one is old. Plus, the accumulation of junk mutations that harm one in old age don’t get cleared out of the populace’s gene pool because they don’t affect the ability to successfully reproduce.

      1. The more likely explanation is that our bodies start falling apart as we age because the tradeoffs to optimize health and reproductive success when one is young has adverse consequences when one is old.

        Interesting theory, but it was demonstrated years ago that it is because the Tree of Life root failed to take hold on Earth, due to insufficient thallium oxide in the soil.

        1. We could use a good Protector right about now.

          1. Brennan is still out there…well, you know, will be.

          2. My home wireless network is named phssthpok. For some reason, this confuses people.

            1. And on a related note, I just finished Destroyer of Worlds.

              Much better than Juggler.

      2. Completely wrong prolefeed. If parents live a long time, and are not a burden, then they can increase the likelihood of their children breading – by making them more wealthy, having better access to food, or any other myriad of reasons.

        1. “I watched half an episode of some show on the Discovery Channel.”

          1. I get all my knowledge from Discovery show promos.

            1. I’ve been worshiping aliens and combing my attic for antique firearms ever since then.

        2. In a marginal existence in a resource-poor environment (also known as the state of nature, where evolutionary advantages get programmed into DNA), having a whole crowd of people past breeding age horking up chow and crapping in the water hole does not ehance the survivability of the local gene pool.

      3. “A body’s fine-tuned set of tradeoffs isn’t going to evolve to promote the survival of a reproductive dead end.”

        Historically, grandparents played a major role in the raising of children.

        1. Or maybe what RC said.

    2. Being that we are nothing but our genes best shot at getting passed on, I doubt longevity gets any evolutionary priorities.

  22. The preventative fix for obesity and general health has been empircally known to science and common sense for decades if not centuries.

    The proof is in it being a prelude statement to every study, product, or wise pontification on the subject of positive health: ‘Combined with moderate diet and exercise, XYZ blah-blah-blah…’

    All this blame-a-new-chemical/corporation per year shit is just a take on the Onion t-shirt ‘Why won’t someone do something about how fat I am?’

  23. I foresee the NYC food nazis not giving a shit about this latest research, claiming it as junk science and still going fullmsteam ahead with their “salt is the direct path to heart disease” campaign.

  24. “”Could Eating Less Salt Be Deadly?””

    Maybe yes, maybe no. Depends on your current salt intake. I’m not sure how many people eat salted pork fat anymore, but either way, it shouldn’t be the government’s business.

  25. all is good in moderation

    1. Well, almost.

  26. I’m not sure how many people eat salted pork fat anymore,

    Sounds delicious. Where can I get some?

    1. Do pork rinds count? (I sound fat.)

    2. Bacon is pretty easy to find.

  27. What were trying to do is control the costs of PPACA by inducing hyponatria in as much of the population as possible.

  28. The balance of consumption of salt of an organism, depends on environmental temperature. In tropical countries salt supports humidity in an organism, in the cold countries – a role salt carry out fats.

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