Thursday, May 05, 2011

Salt is GOOD for you: Eating more could even lower the chances of heart disease

I guess I shouldn't say. "I told you do" -- but I did. See my sidebar. The study below is not of course conclusive but nor are the studies used to condemn salt.

For years, doctors have been telling us that too much salt is bad for us. Until now. A study claims that cutting down on salt can actually increase the risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke. The research has left nutritionists scratching their heads.

Its findings indicate that those who eat the least sodium – about one teaspoon a day – don’t show any health advantage over those who eat the most. In fact, those with less salty diets actually had slightly higher death rates from heart disease.

The study, which followed 3,681 healthy European men and women aged 60 or younger, for about eight years, also found that above-average salt intake did not appear to increase the danger of developing high blood pressure.

The report, in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was released just three months after the U.S. government launched a public health campaign urging restaurants and food manufacturers to cut down on their use of salt.

Sodium was measured in the urine of those taking part, at the beginning and end of the study.

A little more than six per cent of the participants suffered a heart attack, a stroke or some other cardiovascular emergency during the eight years. About a third of these were fatal.

Those who consumed the least salt had a 56 per cent higher risk of death from a heart attack or stroke compared with those who consumed the most. This was even after obesity, cholesterol levels, smoking, diabetes and other risk factors were taken into account.

There were 50 deaths in the third of participants with the lowest salt consumption, 24 in the third with medium intake and just ten deaths in those with the highest salt levels.

Lead researcher Jan Staessen, head of the hypertension laboratory at the University of Leuven, in Belgium, said: ‘Our findings do not support a generalised reduction of salt intake in the population.’

The scientists did not have a firm explanation for their results, but they reportedly speculated that low levels of salt in the body could cause more stress in the nervous system, decrease sensitivity to insulin and affect hormones that control blood pressure and sodium absorption. But they stressed that those with high blood pressure – who were not included in the study – should still stick to a low-salt diet.

Some experts claimed last night that the findings should be taken with, well, a pinch of salt. They argue that the volunteers used in the study all started out with normal blood pressure, were white, relatively young and reasonably healthy.

Past research has shown that those with hypertension, black people, the elderly and the obese tend to react more negatively to ingesting more salt.

Many other studies have shown salt can be bad for you. In March, Australian scientists reported that it takes only 30 minutes for a salty meal significantly to impair the arteries’ ability to pump blood around the body.

Health experts estimate that cutting average consumption by just a couple of grams a day would slash strokes by 22 per cent and heart attacks by 16 per cent, saving 17,000 lives in the UK. Research last year suggested heart disease could be cut by almost a fifth if food companies were banned from adding too much salt to their products.


Paracetemol (acetaminophen) taken out of US infant drops

A small chip out of the undeserved good reutation of this medication

JOHNSON & Johnson and other makers of cold and fever medications in the Unites States say they will discontinue infant drops of medicines containing paracetemol in an effort to avoid confusion that can lead to dangerous overdoses.

The industry association for over-the-counter medicine companies in the US says its members will only sell a single formula for all children under the age of 12.

Currently, J&J and other companies sell infant formulations that contain half the amount of paracetemol as that found in regular children's formula.

Paracetemol is a ubiquitous pain reliever found in Tylenol, Nyquil and thousands of other medicines used to treat headaches, fever and sore throats.

While safe when used as directed, paracetemol is the leading cause of liver failure in the US and sends thousands to the emergency room annually.


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