ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
CANCER
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
More Americans Urged to Get Cancer Screenings
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Trans Fat Labeling Gets Tricky
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
Freckles, Moles May Indicate Risk for Eye Cancer
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
EYE CARE, VISION
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
FITNESS
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Optimism May Boost Immune System
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
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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