Put Down That Salt Shaker to Spare Your Kidneys

FRIDAY, Dec. 29, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Folks who habitually add an extra sprinkle of salt to their meals are doing no favors for their kidneys, new research confirms.

The finding held even after researchers accounted for other health issues, such as being overweight, not exercising or smoking and/or drinking.

The bottom line: "Adding salt to foods is associated with increased risk of chronic kidney disease in the general population," concluded a team led by Dr. Lu Qi, of Tulane University's Obesity Research Center, in New Orleans.

Qi and his colleagues recently published studies showing that adding salt to meals upped people's odds for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and shortened life spans.

However, links between table salt and the odds of kidney disease in the general population hadn't been well-researched, Qi's group noted.

To remedy that, they analyzed data on more than 465,000 people, averaging 56 years of age, who didn't have kidney disease when they registered for a British health database known as the UK Biobank. Participants' health and lifestyle were tracked from 2006 to 2023.

According to the researchers, over 22,000 cases of kidney disease emerged over the study period.

Compared to folks who never or rarely added salt to their food, people who did so had a higher odds of developing kidney trouble. The risk rose with the frequency at which people said they used table salt.

For example, compared to never-users, folks who said they "sometimes" added extra salt had a 4% higher risk of kidney disease; those who "usually" added salt had a 7% higher risk, and those who "always" added salt saw their risk rise by 11%.

Those risk estimates came after Qi's team accounted for lifestyle factors that often accompany heavy salt intake -- overweight/obesity, smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, diabetes, hypertension and other issues.

The study was published in the Dec. 28 issue of the journal JAMA Network Open.

There are many physiological issues linking high sodium intake and poorer kidney function, the researchers noted, including hormonal changes and "increased oxidative stress" on the twin organs.

According to the Tulane investigators, their findings "support the reduction of adding salt to foods as a potential intervention strategy for chronic kidney disease prevention."

More information

Find out more about the health hazards of excess salt at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: JAMA Network Open, Dec. 28, 2023

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