Doctors on salt
The federal government wants to put America on a low-salt diet. But could such an experiment damage the public’s health? Citing recent medical studies, a growing number of physicians are publicly questioning the salt-restriction goals of the Food and Drug Administration and anti-salt activist groups.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING:
" ... the `science’ on which the FDA policy on sodium reduction is based is dubious. This truth is already unmistakable now for most interested scientists and sooner or later it will be clear also to laymen. When this happens there will be responsible persons who would have a problem as the present recommendations may kill people instead of saving them. We therefore suggest that FDA, instead of considering how to reduce the sodium intake in the population, reconsiders the policy.”
- Niels Graudal and Gesche Jürgens, medical researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark and the authors of a 2011 study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension and the Cochrane Library journal, based on a meta-analysis of 167 previous studies. READ MORE .
"One should be very careful in advocating generalized reduction in sodium intake in the population at large. There might be some benefits, but there might also be some adverse effects. You have to ask, should public health policies be based on something which is still being debated? I don't think so."
-- Jan Staessen, lead investigator in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that suggests low-salt intake increases the risks of dying from heart attack and stroke. READ MORE
Population-wide salt reduction is “a rash approach without scientific support to indicate if it’s going to be safe or beneficial. ... That’s why we do randomized clinical Trials. We have a scientific method for establishing the validity, benefit and the safety of that intervention. I'm just arguing for doing the same thing before we ask 300 million Americans to change their diet around one item.”
-- Dr. Michael Alderman, a blood pressure researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and editor of the American Journal of Hypertension. READ MORE
“Public policy should not try to trump human physiology. Any attempts to do so through well-intended strategies directed at the society at large, such as mandatory sodium labeling of food products and extensive educational and social marketing efforts, are not going to change an intake pattern that reflects human biology. Such efforts also carry potentially substantial risks.”
-- David McCarron, an adjunct professor with the Department of Nutrition, University of California-Davis and the former head of the Nephrology Division at Oregon Health & Science University. READ MORE
“We have already seen the harm that can be done when we allow public health experts to launch major population-wide dietary changes, without adequately studying what their effects will be. Especially given the increasing evidence of the harms that might be done by it, we are nuts if we allow the arrogant expert class to enforce a salt restriction program on all of us, before we adequately study its likely results.”
-- Dr. Richard N. Fogoros, a former professor of medicine and an author in the fields of cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology. READ MORE
“I don’t think we need to put all of the U.S. on a sodium-restricted diet.”
-- Judith S. Stern of the University of California-Davis, a nutrition expert and coauthor of a study that questioned the scientific reasoning behind the campaign against salt. READ MORE
"There are reasons food companies put it in their products. Now they have to find substitutes, and we don't know what impact the substitutes will have. Wouldn't it be nice to have some information before going ahead with a health policy that will affect millions of Americans?"
-- Hillel Cohen, epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. READ MORE
"Is sodium important to most people's health? Is this a battle worth fighting for most people? The answer is no."
-- Norman Hollenberg, a kidney specialist and blood pressure researcher at Harvard Medical School and editor of the book Atlas of Hypertension. READ MORE
“We love a villain. It is easy to campaign if everyone can get behind a common enemy and crusade. But good science is not about crusading with preconceived ideas. It's about asking why, and seeking the truth, however inconvenient it might be and however tortuous the path to get there. Public health policy needs to be based on firm scientific foundation and clear benefit, not populist propaganda. The government needs to leave the recipes and the cookery to the chefs. And leave the salt on my pommes frites.”
-- Michael S. Fenster, a cardiologist, professional chef, blogger and author. READ MORE
Last updated 2/14/12