Researchers who analyzed 114 studies on the effects of reducing salt in people's diets say they found no evidence to support U.S. recommendations that people with normal blood pressure limit their intake.
A salt-restricted diet can lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients over age 45, but has little or no benefit among younger hypertensive patients and those with normal blood pressure, the vast majority of the population, previous research has suggested.And a study earlier this year found that people on low-sodium diets died sooner than other people.
The new analysis found that while salt reduction lowered blood pressure, it raised some blood chemicals - including LDL or so-called "bad" cholesterol - in potentially harmful ways, authors reported in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
"These results do not support a general recommendation to reduce sodium intake," said the authors, led by Dr. Niels A. Graudal of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. His team analyzed 114 studies from 1966 through 1997.
An expert not involved in the work, Dr. Jeffrey A. Cutler of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said the analysis adds little knowledge about restricting sodium.
"If we think that it does any good, we're kind of stuck with making recommendations for everybody, unless we think it might do some harm," he said in a telephone interview Monday. "Even these authors say they can't conclude it causes harm, just things that might cause concern."
Dr. Alexander G. Logan, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, disagreed with Cutler and said the new findings confirm others that support lifting current guidelines.