Public unaware that salt causes strokes

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Public unaware that salt causes strokes and kidney disease

Eating a high-salt diet has been proven to lead to high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, kidney disease, stomach cancer and osteoporosis. Yet most people in the UK have no idea of the damage eating too much salt can do.

A survey of 2,063 UK adults by CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health) showed that:

  • 6% knew salt can cause stomach cancer
  • 4% knew it can cause osteoporosis
  • 34% knew it can cause stroke
  • 69% knew it can cause high blood pressure

It is well-established that a high-salt diet raises blood pressure and, if too much salt is eaten for too long, it can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure puts extra strain on the heart and blood vessels and this raises the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

While most people now know about the link between a high-salt diet and high blood pressure, the message that this is linked to strokes and heart disease is yet to take root. Only one-third (34%) of adults associated the raised risk of high blood pressure with causing stroke. Yet high blood pressure is the major cause of stroke and a major factor in heart disease - responsible for more than 60% of storkes, and almost half of all heart disease.

Joe Korner, Director of Communications for the Stroke Association, said: "Every year 150,000 people have a stroke. It's essential that people take steps to make sure they know how much salt is in the foods they eat and to try to cut back on their salt intake."

Mike Rich, Executive Director of the UK blood pressure charity the Blood Pressure Association, said: "Reducing your salt intake is one of the most significant ways in which you can lower your blood pressure, and so reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke."

The evidence linking high-salt diets with stomach cancer, osteoporosis and kidney disease has been steadily growing. Yet only 6% of UK adults know that salt can cause stomach cancer and even fewer, 4% of adults know that too much salt can cause osteoporosis.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of CASH and the Blood Pressure Association, noted: "The unnecessarily high amount of salt we eat leads to stroke and heart disease, and there is increasing evidence that salt intake is linked to stomach cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and kidney stones and kidney disease.

"The food industry is responsible for our current high salt intake; it is imperative that they make larger reductions in the amount of unnecessary salt that they add to their products immediately."

The survey was conducted by CASH to highlight the beginning of National Salt Awareness Week 2010 to raise awareness of the dangers linked to a high-salt diet.

Anthony Worrall Thompson said: "I am pleased that the wide range of health problems contributed to by a high salt diet is being highlighted. I fully support [National Salt Awareness Week] and urge the food industry to think about how much salt they add to our food."

To lower your salt intake to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease, please use the links below:

Reference: Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) Media Release: New survey reveals Brits don't know why they should cut the salt. 1 February 2010.

Topics: Lifestyle

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