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Friday, November 18, 2011

Salt Linked to Heart Woes, but Some Say the Evidence Is Shaky

A sacred cow at the salt lick.
Uncle Sam wants you to consume less salt. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration held a day-long hearing today, discussing strategies to help Americans cut the salt from their diets, the latest assault in the crusade against sodium.

In the past few decades, the government has created guidelines, cajoled industry groups and garnered support from major medical groups such as the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association to encourage more Americans to get the salt out of their diets. Their action is stems from the medical wisdom that many know by heart: A diet high in salt raises blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and a host of other cardiovascular problems. If the food industry, restaurants and citizens cut their daily salt intake, the feds argue, the national burden of cardiovascular disease would be eased.

The FDA's goal is to get the food industry to gradually reduce the amount of salt in processed and restaurant foods, which account for 75 percent of Americans' salt intake, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But a number of scientists and physicians say that the case against salt is far from closed. The evidence connecting high-sodium diets with heart disease and death is flimsy, they argue, and does not warrant such sweeping changes in salt consumption.

"Other than in those patients with underlying heart or kidney failure, there is little conclusive evidence that moderate salt intake actually increases heart disease risk," said Dr. Stuart Seides, associate director of cardiology at the Washington Hospital Center.
Still think they have any idea what they are talking about?

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