Thursday, November 17

Who to believe?

I tend to agree with John Luik's A Grain of Salt
Salt does raise blood pressure and blood pressure is one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
...there is no study showing population-wide net health benefits from low-sodium diets....even though some sub-groups can benefit from reduced salt intake....the US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations on healthy diets notes that "There is insufficient evidence, that, for the general population, reducing dietary sodium intake… results in improved health outcomes."
I've got high blood pressure and reducing my salt intake hasn't done me any good. Instead, I find that hot weather reduces it.

As for Luik, the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco labels him a tobacco industry consultant. They do the same for Kip Viscusi, and go on to say,
His most well-known book, "Smoke-filled rooms: a postmortem on the tobacco deal" (2002) describes his views in detail. An excellent critique of this book by Dr. Michael Cummings of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, was published in Tobacco Control.
Of course the review is critical. But the editors of Tobacco Control have appended this DISCLOSURE:
K Michael Cummings is not an unbiased observer of Dr Viscusi’s research and writings. He has served as a paid expert witness on behalf of plaintiffs counsel in several of the same cases in which Dr Viscusi also served as an expert for the cigarette industry. Dr Cummings is currently employed as a senior research scientist and is chairman of the Department of Health Behavior in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, USA. His salary support comes primarily from Roswell Park Cancer Institute and from research funding provided by the National Cancer Institute, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Legacy Foundation, and New York State Department of Health. Dr Cummings serves on the medical advisory board for the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) and has served on various scientific advisory boards and grant review committees for National Institutes of Health, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, American Cancer Society, Canadian National Cancer Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and state and local health agencies for which he has received honoraria. Dr Cummings has also received honoraria and has accepted hospitality and on a few occasions, travel costs, from pharmaceutical companies making tobacco dependence treatment products.
And a look at Viscusi's Working papers shows his interest in risk stats. And at one point he worked for Ralph Nader.

1 comment:

Dick Hanneman said...

Right on regarding salt. You correctly note that no studies show that low-salt consuming individuals live longer or have fewer heart attacks (in fact, three studies, so far, show greater risks for those who cut back on salt). We've collected links to all these studies that have been published at

Dick Hanneman
Salt Institute (the global association of salt companies)