People who add extra salt to their food at the table are at higher risk of dying prematurely from any cause, according to a study conducted by School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, published in the European Heart Journal.
In the study of more than 501,379 people, those who regularly added salt to their food had a 28 percent higher risk of dying prematurely, compared to those who never or rarely added salt.
In the general population, about three in every hundred people aged between 40 and 69 die prematurely. The increased risk from always adding salt to food seen in the current study suggests that one more person in every hundred may die prematurely in this age group.
In addition, the study found a lower life expectancy among people who always added salt compared to those who never, or rarely added salt. At the age of 50, 1.5 years and 2.28 years were knocked off the life expectancy of women and men, respectively, who always added salt to their food compared to those who never, or rarely, did.
“To my knowledge, our study is the first to assess the relation between adding salt to foods and premature death. It provides novel evidence to support recommendations to modify eating behaviors for improving health. Even a modest reduction in sodium intake, by adding less or no salt to food at the table, is likely to result in substantial health benefits, especially when it is achieved in the general population.”
As well as finding that always adding salt to foods was linked to a higher risk of premature death from all causes and a reduction in life expectancy, the researchers found that these risks tended to be reduced slightly in people who consumed the highest amounts of fruit and vegetables, although these results were not statistically significant.
Prof. Qi and his colleagues will be carrying out further studies on the relation between adding salt to foods and various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They also expect potential clinical trials to test the effects of a reduction in adding salt on health outcomes.