- In a scientific statement on salt and cardiovascular disease (CVD), a WHO-affiliated group says 4 controversial studies are an “inappropriate” basis for overturning public health efforts to reduce global salt consumption.
Why this matters
- The high-profile studies were all published by the same group: 1 in New England Journal of Medicine , 1 in JAMA , and a pair of them in The Lancet.
- Authors of the 4 studies suggest salt intake at WHO target levels (12 g/day) for CVD.
- WHO European Salt Action network says methodology is flawed.
- A salty editorial in The Lancet with the fourth of these studies noted some shortcomings.
- About the 4 studies, the WHO statement authors say that:
- Spot urine samples are not valid measures of salt intake.
- A single urine test cannot inform about long-term effects of salt intake.
- Results of the 4 studies are not generalizable, show no causal relationship of low salt intake and CVD mortality.
- BP population comparisons in these studies were not biologically meaningful.
- Salt intake that the 4 studies identify as “least dangerous” is current level in many Western countries, where randomized controlled trials have shown that halving this amount meaningfully reduces BP.