“High Blood Pressure May Be a Choice?” Really?

I had to respond! You know how so many Facebook posts are worded to make you check them out? Worded to get the click! Whether I saw this on Facebook or not I can't remember but when I saw the Title, "High Blood Pressure May Be a Choice", that hooked me in and got me to click.

What Was on the Page?

On clicking the link and I'll share that link in a minute, I found a video sharing results of various research studies on salt in our diets.

The bottom line was that since the people in the studies had low blood pressure and eat low amounts of salt in contrast to the average person who eats lots of salt and has high blood pressure, your blood pressure is under your control because it is down to your salt intake and you can control that.

Voila – we choose our blood pressure.

This raised an eyebrow or two for me and maybe a hackle or two as well. First of all I have always been dubious about the alleged connection between salt and health. My basic outlook was that salt is an essential mineral and was sceptical about the so called risk.

And the allegations were mostly about salt raising blood pressure and not about salt raising the all-risk mortality which is what matters.

I don't care if salt or coffee or something else raises blood pressure I care if it kills people. The All Risk mortality measures that. And the rest is flimflam.

So Where's The Evidence?

Just as the infamous Cholesterol Hypothesis ( cholesterol is going to kill you) was based on a faulty experiment the Salt Hypothesis ( salt is going to kill you) was also based on a nonsense study wrongly interpreted.

Here it is…

Lewis Dahl fed groups of genetically damaged rats a diet so high in salt that scaled up to match our weight we would be eating over 500 gm of salt.

See photo

Obviously the rats suffered from this procedure, I'm not surprised that they got high blood pressure but to conclude from this that we humans should avoid salt is extremely silly.
Dahl persisted. In a study of humans he found this

Dahl-blood pressure

Totally in line with his rat study. Hmm, smell a rat here? Maybe my early studies in Statistics taught me to be too sceptical but look at the funny graph. It has 2 indigenous groups, 2 Japanese groups and 1 US. From this we deduce how salt works in humans?

Hey, I'm British where am I on this graph? Where are my French friends etc. The "Rat" of course in Dahl because he cherry picked his data.

Perhaps smelling the same rat the Intersalt study set out to do an authoritative study on this vexed issue.

The "INTERSALT" study was an ambitious study on people rather than rats and grouped together people from 52 locations around the world.

Again the experimenters found that connection they expected to find was in fact "seen" in the results. The data showed, apparently that when salt intake went up so did the Blood Pressure.

On re-examination though, there were 4 points on the graph that attracted particular attention. These points were from societies living in remote regions such as jungles and were totally distinct from the other 48 points.

When you looked at the story told by the 48 points representing over 10,000 that were from "people like us" not jungle dwellers there was no clear connection at all between the points and the salt hypothesis was left with no support.

Even worse

The line drawn through the 48 points in the big cluster points DOWNWARDS. In other words the more salt you have the lower your blood pressure.

Let's skip through a ton of extra to and from and come to the conclusion on salt.

Not my opinion but from a meta-analysis of 25 studies, published in 2013 they say

"The main finding is that, compared with the usual sodium intake throughout the world, those consuming more or less sodium were at increased risk of both ACM and CVD." Where ACM means All-Cause Mortality which is the important fact often missed out in studies and CVD – Cardiovascular disease

They end with

"these data are consistent with the hypothesis that a U shape best describes the relationship of sodium intake to health outcomes.

Let's Make This Clear

If an energetic and determined researcher wants to prove something with data they can, for a long while anyway.

Ancel Keys fooled a lot people for decades with his war on cholesterol before that foolishness was realised and Lewis Dahl created a similar foolishness with his war on salt.

The simple truth is that salt is fine and the tiny minority of people who are very salt sensitive and have very high blood pressure may well benefit from a reduction of their salt. Mind you they would benefit even more from following a healthy diet in which many heart healthy measure are combined to get an even bigger effect.

Salt is only one element of a diet.

But there are many Doctors who still play the trumpet of the Salt is evil band and here is one of them

He is someone I admire and it was his line, High Blood Pressure May Be a Choice that got my attention and got me to click.

Does he also tailor is conclusions to fit his "Vegan, no oil" diet?

See what you think when you let Dr. Greger speak for himself.

Right here at

You might want to watch it a couple of times though!

Feel free to ask questions and to share this post with your friends whether they are in the US, Britain France of anywhere else.

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