forbes takes on the salt debate

FORBES TACKLES THE SALT CONTROVERSY

Salt Health

A few days ago Dr. Larry Husten wrote an article for Forbes called Salt, Science And The American Heart Association’s Double Standard.  Husten, an MIT graduate and journalist in the field of cardiology, is a man who is familiar with the Salt / Heart Health debate — a debate I myself have chimed in on on many different occasions (HERE they are).  After seeing an almost rabid attack by the American Heart Association’s top dog (Elliott Antman) against a recent study that I read on MedPage Today (it was against massive salt restriction), I was pleasantly surprised to see someone from a more mainstream position than I pipe in with a rebuttal.

In his article, Husten accuses Antman of a double standard because he only tells one side of the salt story.  Antman made it look like the people who came to an opposite conclusion in a recent study (“assessed sodium intake was not associated with 10-year mortality, incident cardiovascular disease, or incident heart failure“), were idiots who did not take EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine) seriously.  Husten goes on to reveal that, “Antman doesn’t tell you that the scientific basis for the AHA recommendation is at least as weak as the scientific basis for opposing views…..    In fact, there is NO evidence from good clinical trials or even epidemiological studies showing that lowering sodium intake in a large population is beneficial.”  Oh really?  Because of all the hype surrounding topics like Salt-restriction and the DASH DIET, many people have never heard anything other than the message so common in today’s medical practice; “Avoid salt like the plague because almost any amount will kill you!”

Speaking of EBM, Husten goes on to reveal that, “I think a ‘science-based organization’ has an obligation to present all the important evidence and to fairly and accurately reflect the diversity and complexity of scientific opinion. There is no broad scientific consensus about salt.”  No consensus about salt?  Who would have guessed by listening to today’s mainstream medical mouthpieces?  After providing a link from a recent study on salt by the New England Journal of Medicine, Husten hits us with a final bombshell. 

The NEJM papers were accompanied by an editorial that also expressed disagreement with the AHA low salt recommendations. Unless and until there is better evidence, ‘the results argue against reduction of dietary sodium as an isolated public health recommendation,’ wrote the editorialist, Suzanna Oparil.  Here’s the kicker: Oparil is, herself, a former president of not only the American Society of Hypertension but also Antman’s own American Heart Association. I find it remarkable that the current AHA president doesn’t feel it necessary to note an opposing view from his own predecessor.

What does all this tell me?  I could almost guarantee you that somewhere, somehow, Antman is making money off his rabidly low-salt approach to living(books, lectures, guidelines, patents, research, etc are all common ways this is done).  That’s how it works though.  It’s not much different than Al Gore and his cronies telling us that because the earth is baking like an anchovy pizza in a charcoal-fired oven, we all need to purchase “Carbon Credits” (whether done on our own or at the end of the barrel of the government’s gun makes no difference).  

The thing is, good ole Al just happens to have major interest in a firm that brokers these modern day “indulgences” (his company, GIM, will likely make him the first “Carbon Billionaire”).  INDULGENCES you ask?  How else can you explain someone who constantly lectures us on shrinking our ‘Carbon Footprint’, while jetting around the world and occasionally swimming in his heated outdoor pool (HERE)?  But isn’t that the nature of “Big Government”?  Unfortunately, it’s the nature of EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE as well.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that Dr. Antman, a respected cardiologist, author, lecturer, and professor, is doing anything underhanded or dirty here.  I can, however, tell you from past experience that the people who write the national guidelines for medical practice, or sit on various “Advisory Committees” are frequently found to be embroiled in all sorts of ‘interesting’ financial ‘arrangements’ — all of which are perfectly legal.  You want some examples of this, look no farther than the posts filed under the previous link.  I’m not suggesting that you read them all, but take a moment to browse through the titles.  I’ll warn you though — make sure you have a barf bag handy if you actually start reading.

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