Salt may not be blood pressure bad guy
May 22, 1996
Web posted at: 6:15 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- New studies are casting doubt on the old belief that salt can cause high blood pressure.
One study, performed by a group of Canadian doctors, concludes that lowering salt consumption is helpful only to people over the age of 45 who already have a problem with high blood pressure.
"For the vast majority of people who have a normal blood pressure, our study shows that individuals can probably stop worrying about the intake of salt," said Dr. Alexander Logan, one of the study's creators.
The study, to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was sponsored by grants from soup-maker Campbell and Canadian groups. Doctors coordinating the study looked at the results of 56 surveys of blood pressure and salt intake.
The results have led to questions about the United States' salt recommendations. In Logan's words, the doctors "feel that any campaign against salt should be set aside and rather be replaced by a vigorous campaign promoting a balanced diet, healthy weight and regular exercise."
But the salt question is far from answered. Some doctors think the Canadian study is flawed and that salt remains suspicious, at least.
Dr. Paul Whelton of Johns Hopkins University said he will continue to advise patients to limit salt intake, based on more traditional studies that "seem to suggest that moderation of sodium intake will reduce the risk (of high blood pressure) by 25 percent or thereabout."
Whichever view doctors take regarding salt's role in high blood pressure, all seem to agree that blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising and drinking less alcohol.
Another study in the Journal demonstrates that medication can also help lower blood pressure, while a third report touts the benefits of a diet high in protein to decrease blood pressure.
The findings in the protein study contradict what scientists expected to find. Further studies are sure to come.
- Salt shake-up - November 16, 1995
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