ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Winter Is Tough on Feet
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
CANCER
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
DIABETES
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
DIET, NUTRITION
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
Six Healthy-Sounding Foods That Really Aren't
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
FITNESS
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
Almost Two-Thirds of Americans Meet Exercise Guidelines
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
Hidden Salt in Diet Haunts Many With Heart Failure
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Drink Away Dementia?
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
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Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble

Slashing salt intake by just 3 grams a day -- the equivalent of half a teaspoon -- could dramatically cut the incidence of heart disease and death in U.S. adults, researchers claim.

According to the authors of a study in the Jan. 20 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, the projected reductions would be similar to the benefits accruing from a 50 percent drop in the smoking rate and a 5 percent decline in body mass index among obese adults.

"There's no question that Americans eat too much salt," said Dr. Robert Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. "The idea of salt restriction and reducing blood pressure-related outcomes such as heart disease and stroke has been under consideration for some time. This group just simply took a map to it. The study certainly has scientific validity in terms of the importance of salt reduction for quality of life and longevity."

"Is everyone going to make the same change? Maybe not," said Karen Congro, director of the Wellness for Life Program at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. "But even a small change would reduce the total number of strokes and heart attacks over time because the situation is so dire. It would also be beneficial to immediate health."

U.S. health agencies recommend that most adults limit their daily consumption of salt to less than 5.8 grams (2,300 milligrams [mg] of sodium), with 3.7 grams a day preferable.

The American Heart Association urges the average American to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, but also notes that older people, blacks and people with high blood pressure need to go even lower -- to under 1,500 mg per day.

Despite these recommendations, the average daily intake of salt is on the increase.

In 2005-2006, the study authors stated, men in the United States took in an average of 10.4 grams of salt a day and women consumed 7.3 grams a day, far more than the suggested limit.

Excess salt can cause or worsen high blood pressure and raises the risk for cardiovascular disease.

This is not the first time Americans' favorite dietary supplement has hit the news in recent days.

The New York City Health Department, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has announced that it is spearheading the "National Salt Reduction Initiative," which aims for a 20 percent reduction in salt consumption over five years.

The initiative is targeted primarily at restaurants and food manufacturers, which supply the gross majority of sodium in American diets.

Only about one-quarter of the salt in the U.S. diet comes directly from the kitchen table salt shaker.

The researchers, from the University of California, San Francisco, fed previously published data on heart disease in U.S. adults aged 35 to 84 into a computer model.

The model then predicted that the reduction of 3 grams of salt a day would cut the number of new cases of coronary heart disease each year by 60,000 to 120,000; stroke by 32,000 to 66,000 cases; and heart attacks by 54,000 to 99,000.

The annual number of deaths from any cause would be reduced by 44,000 to 92,000.

Limiting salt intake would be good for the fiscal diet as well, saving an estimated $10 billion to $24 billion in health care costs yearly, the paper found.

But if Americans cut even a mere 1 gram of salt from their meals and snacks every day, the effects would still be stunning, the authors stated: 20,000 to 40,000 fewer cases of coronary heart disease; 18,000 to 35,000 fewer heart attacks; 11,000 to 23,000 fewer strokes; and 15,000 to 32,000 fewer deaths.

Given that so much sodium comes from processed food, the authors urged a public health initiative to curb consumption.

SOURCES: Robert Eckel, M.D., professor, medicine, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine; Karen Congro, R.D., director, Wellness for Life Program, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, New York City; Robert Frankel, M.D., director, interventional cardiology, Maimonides Medical Center, New York City; Jan. 20, 2010, New England Journal of Medicine, online Published on: January 20, 2010