Home Health & Wellness Excessive Salt Intake Linked to a Higher Risk of Stomach Cancer, Major Study Reveals

Excessive Salt Intake Linked to a Higher Risk of Stomach Cancer, Major Study Reveals

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A new study conducted by researchers from the Center for Public Health at the University of Vienna has found that excessive consumption of salt significantly raises the risk of stomach cancer in individuals residing in the UK. This major finding highlights the health risks associated with the common habit of adding salt to food and might cause many to think twice before reaching for the salt shaker.

The findings were published in the journal Gastric Cancer.

The study analysed data from the UK Biobank, encompassing 471,144 adults over an 11-year period. It revealed that individuals who frequently added salt to their meals faced a 41 percent higher risk of developing stomach cancer compared to those who used salt sparingly. This finding is particularly alarming given that previous research has primarily connected high salt intake with increased stomach cancer risk in Asian populations, making this one of the first studies to establish such a link in Western countries.

“Our research shows the connection between the frequency of added salt and stomach cancer in Western countries too,” said Selma Kronsteiner-Gicevic, the lead author and a nutritionist at the University of Vienna.

The FDA currently recommends that individuals consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, which is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt. However, many Americans exceed this guideline, consuming about 3,400 mg of sodium each day, largely due to hidden salts in processed foods and the habit of adding extra salt. For instance, a single can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup contains about 890 mg of salt.

While adding a sprinkle of salt to meals may seem harmless, researchers warn that consistently exceeding recommended salt limits could be detrimental to health. Previous studies have shown that a high salt intake can erode the stomach’s protective lining, causing tissue damage and potentially cancerous mutations.

The Vienna study’s findings are robust, remaining significant even after adjusting for other factors such as age, socioeconomic status, and lifestyle choices, including alcohol and tobacco use. Both alcohol consumption and smoking are known to significantly increase the risk of developing stomach cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. They estimate that there will be about 26,890 new cases of stomach cancer diagnosed in America in 2024, with approximately 10,880 fatalities.

Stomach cancer often develops insidiously, with early symptoms such as bloating, upset stomach, and indigestion frequently overlooked or mistaken for less serious conditions. This makes early detection challenging and underscores the importance of awareness and preventive measures.

Tilman Kühn, another researcher involved in the study, emphasised the public health implications of their findings. “With our study, we want to raise awareness of the negative effects of extremely high salt consumption and provide a basis for measures to prevent stomach cancer,” he said.

Despite its strengths, the study did acknowledge some limitations. For instance, the researchers did not have detailed dietary data for all participants concerning the salt content of the food they consumed. They also pointed out that the low number of stomach cancer cases relative to the size of the study group might not have allowed for a thorough analysis of potential modifiers such as age, sex, ethnicity, H. pylori infection, or smoking status. The effect of H. pylori infection, a well-known risk factor for stomach cancer, was likely underestimated given its estimated prevalence of 0.3% among UK Biobank participants compared to an estimated UK-wide prevalence of 35.5%.

Nevertheless, the researchers hope that their findings will lead to better public health strategies aimed at reducing salt intake among the general population. By doing so, they aim to decrease the incidence of stomach cancer and other salt-related health issues. As this research adds to the growing body of evidence on the dangers of excessive salt consumption, it serves as a critical reminder of the need for moderation in dietary habits.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd