Do Low Salt Diets Kill People?

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In reading the recent study published by the Lancet, which correlated increased death in people eating less salt, I came to one conclusion. Sicker people are more likely to die. People who are sicker, and more likely to die, eat less salt, less calories, less fat, less cholesterol, less vitamins, less - you get the idea.
This explains the correlation between less salt and more deaths but it’s not the cause and effect as the Salt Institute would have you believe. It is the effect of poor health on food (and salt) intake that causes the correlation between lower salt intake and dying.
Even worse than the shoddy reporting that is done on the supposed dangers of a low salt intake is the news media’s nearly complete failure to report new evidence that excess salt is indeed a major cause of disease and death.
A recent review actually found that dietary salt intake correlated with end organ disease of the heart, brain, kidneys and vascular system more closely than it did with blood pressure. In other words, excessive salt intake itself is the primary problem [Arch Inter Med 1997;157:2449]. On top of this, excessive salt promotes stomach cancer and increases the loss of calcium in the urine (thereby increasing the risk of both osteoporosis and kidney stones).
If all Americans were to cut their sodium intake to 1200 mg. per day the death rate in America would eventually drop by at least 300,00-400,000 annually and essential hypertension would become a medical curiosity.

By Jay Kenney, PhD, RD, FACN

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