New Study Shows Genetics, Not Salt, Causes Hypertension

( — At a Sept. 19-20 United Nations Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases, activists will argue for global reductions in salt consumption as a strategy to reduce hypertension. But a comprehensive medical study just published in the science journal Nature makes it clear that genetics, not salt, is the real cause of hypertension.

The Nature study, confirming others like it, shows anti-salt activists are aiming at the wrong target. In fact, medical evidence is mounting that a low-sodium diet risks diabetes and premature death, among other harms.

The Salt Institute calls on the UN and other government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to halt wasteful efforts to reduce salt consumption until it can conclusively prove a tangible benefit while demonstrating a low-sodium diet will not harm citizens.

“There is nothing wrong with reducing blood pressure as long as the strategy you use, such as increasing exercise or eating more salads and vegetables, has no negative consequences. Unfortunately, the salt reduction strategy being promoted at the UN Summit will have negative health outcomes,” said Morton Satin, Vice President of Science and Research at the Salt Institute.

“Salt reduction is a Trojan Horse strategy. It may look positive because it can reduce blood pressure readings by a mere 2 to 6 mm in salt-sensitive individuals who already have hypertension. But the reality is that salt reduction would greatly increase overall health risks for everyone. Trading off a minor gain for a few people for a major risk for everyone is not a particularly wise bargain.”

The new Nature report from scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and their colleagues in centers around the world found that 28 specific regions of DNA are associated with blood pressure in human patients. They also identified an important physiologic pathway in blood pressure control, potentially leading to a totally new class of hypertension drugs.


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