Does too much salt cause autoimmune disease?

What comes crashing down with excessive salt? Dr Stephen Havas, professor of epidemiology

DR. GIFFORD JONES

What comes crashing down with excessive salt? Dr Stephen Havas, professor of epidemiology at the University of Maryland says, “The number of deaths from excess salt is equivalent to a commuter jet crashing every day in the U.S.”

During a visit to the Harvard Medical School, I also learned too much salt may be causing autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease and psoriasis.

For years doctors have linked excessive salt to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Dietary guidelines suggest no more than 1,500 milligrams (mgs) of salt daily. But the majority of North Americans consume 4,000 mgs daily. Studies show one in two North Americans over the age of 65 suffers from hypertension. Moreover, the Framingham study in the U.S. reported that, at age 75, nine out of 10 people have high blood pressure.

A high salt diet has also been linked to the risk of stomach cancer. Salty foods may affect the stomach lining making it easier for the bacterium, H pylori, a cause of stomach ulcers and cancer, to infect tissues. And too much salt has been proven to increase the amount of calcium excretion in the urine. Calcium is removed from bone and increases the risk of bone fractures.

During a meeting at The Harvard Medical School in Boston, Dr. Vijay K. Kuchroo, professor of neurology and an expert in immunology, reported a high salt diet may increase the risk of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes and psoriasis. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system, the TH17 cells that normally help the body clear infections, start to attack normal cells. It’s as if soldiers, rather that shooting the enemy, suddenly decided to shoot themselves.

But the big question asked by Dr. Kuchroo is why there’s been such an increase in autoimmune disease.

According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 1 diabetes increased 23% between 2001 and 2009. The incidence of psoriasis has also doubled. And according to Dr. Kuchroo pediatric multiple sclerosis, virtually unheard of 20 years ago, is now being seen more and more. So how could an increased intake of salt trigger autoimmune disease? Researchers discovered that mice, with the gene SGK1, were predisposed to developing a form of multiple sclerosis when fed a high salt diet. But mice without the gene, when fed the same diet, showed a lesser form of the disease. Other researchers at Yale performed experiments on human immune cells and mice and found the same results.

Dr. Kuchroo says more research is needed, but the solution may be due to the SGK1 gene present in the gastrointestinal tract and kidney, which helps to regulate absorption of salt.

So will hiding the saltshaker make a difference in developing rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn ’s disease and other autoimmune problems? It may be some people have a susceptibility to these diseases so it’s prudent to limit salt intake.

Remember what I’ve said in the past, that too much of anything is rarely a good idea. This is why one study showed those who frequent fast food restaurants had elevated levels of TH17 cells, the ones that attack their own normal cells.

Today excessive salt intake has become a way of life. Restaurant meals and packaged foods are loaded with salt. But don’t hold your breath waiting for TV ads to warn about the dangers of excessive salt. Pharmaceutical companies make billions warning us about the hazards of cholesterol. But there’s no pill to correct this salty problem. Rather, you have to be a smart shopper and read labels. Dr. Kuchroo’s talk brought back memories for me. It was 68 years ago I sat in the same amphitheater listening to my fi rst lecture at The Harvard Medical School.

What changes in surgery, medicine and immunology since that time! I learned Harvard researchers have now cured cancer using immunological techniques. This means chemotherapy may become past history. It also necessitates another visit to my favourite city and HMS.

See the web site at www.docgiff.com. For comments info@docgiff.com.

 

Just Posted

Gord Bamford returns to Central Alberta on latest tour

Hocky Tonks and Dive Bars Tour coming to Bo’s in November

PHOTO: Big Brothers Big Sisters cuts ribbon at Bamford House

New facility to help local youth with mentorship

UPDATE: 18-year-old Rimbey teen dies in collision

A portion of Highway 53 west of Rimbey is down to one lane while crews investigate

Lacombe County Council highlights- Sept. 13. 2018

Lacombe County held a regular meeting of Council

New athletic league for Burman volleyball and basketball teams

University joins Prairie Athletic Conference

WATCH: AHS breaks ground on new Lacombe Community Health Centre

17,000 sq. ft. facility will bring existing Lacombe AHS services together

Mistaken identity: Missing dog claimed in Moose Jaw belongs to another family

Brennen Duncan was reunited with a white Kuvasz that was found in Saskatchewan

Pair arrested in Ponoka with several weapons, face 98 charges

Two men nabbed after early morning suspicious vehicle reported, stolen weapons found

Potential replacements for Phoenix pay system to start testing soon: Brison

Testing of prototypes to replace troubled federal pay system will begin within weeks

Nanaimo’s Tilray Inc. briefly the world’s largest cannabis company

The company, only listed in the US, nearly reached $300 in afternoon trading on Wednesday

Woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart released from prison

Smart was 14 years old when she was snatched from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 by street preacher Brian David Mitchell

New York books editor out after backlash over Jian Ghomeshi essay

Ian Buruma, who was appointed as editor of the New York Review of Books in late 2017, no longer works for the publication

Competition tribunal to hear B.C.-based case on airline food starting in October

The competition commissioner argued Vancouver airport authority had exploited its market position

Most Read