From the NY Post:
City health czar Dr. Thomas Farley is warring with a noted scientist over sodium in the same medical journal where Farley trumpeted the city’s war on salt.
“We cannot extrapolate that lowering sodium consumption would reduce cardiovascular risk or premature death,” declared Dr. Sean C. Lucan of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in this month’s American Journal of Public Health.
“Despite assertions to the contrary,” Lucan wrote — citing an anti-salt screed by Farley and a colleague from September — “we do not know that reducing mean population sodium intake would decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease or save lives.”
Lucan told The Post the city’s salt war is “misguided” — and potentially dangerous.
“We can’t just swallow this as fact — there’s actually debate about this.
“My concern is that they’re focusing on a single ingredient that the food industry is going to have to replace with something — and what they replace it with might be more damaging,” he added.
Higher sodium intake has been shown in some studies to increase blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
But that’s only part of the story, Lucan said.
“There is a relationship between sodium and blood pressure, but it’s not consistent. And even when it’s present, it isn’t clinically very substantial,” he said.
For some high-risk heart patients, some studies show, a low-salt diet “actually leads to worse cardiovascular disease and early death,” Lucan said.
Lowering salt, Lucan notes in his article, “may also decrease insulin sensitivity, alter lipids, and stimulate a variety of neurohormonal pathways detrimental to the cardiovascular system.”
Sodium is simply a marker of unhealthy food, Lucan said, adding that the real target should be refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods — and the city’s war on that front also falls short.
“Refined carbohydrates are a greater enemy,” he warned in the journal. “If sugar-sweetened beverages are a public-health problem, then why aren’t sugar-laden cookies?”