In a recently published British study conducted in England, 5,000 people were followed for nine years. The study found that those who added salt on their food had a 28% higher risk for premature death than those who did not. The men died two years younger and the women one and a half years younger.
Processed food already is high in salt, and some chefs use a significant amount in cooking. We need salt to live, but excess, like everything else, can cause problems like high blood pressure. In the above study, the risk was adjusted for other factors like smoking, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
Another interesting study from the European Society of Cardiology published out of St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland found that if you drink more than one bottle of wine per week or three and a half (500 ml size) cans of beer per week, you have a 4.5% higher chance of heart problems, especially cardiomyopathy and earlier death. They followed 744 people closely for five and a half years and concluded that there is a sweet spot with alcohol consumption, that if exceeded, accelerates aging and premature death.
The last interesting study was out of Finland which showed that regular weekly use of a sauna reduced cardiovascular and stroke deaths significantly. The sauna users also had lower blood pressures. The theory is that the heat and temperature changes “exercise your blood vessels,” and the resulting movement prevents stiffening and hardening of the arteries, similar to what aerobic exercises do. As the ancient Greeks would say, “The more we learn and the more we know, the more we realize how much we don’t know.” It’s nice to see science producing actionable data that we can interpret and use to have a longer health span.
Think positive and test negative.
Peter Michalos, MD is an FAAO board-certified ophthalmologist, clinical associate professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a Southampton resident.