numbers game

Where do scientists get the numbers they use to try to scare us into doing what they believe is the best for us? Especially when it comes to nutrition?  When I read this article in the NYTimes, I was immediately suspicious about some of the information:

If everyone consumed half a teaspoon less salt per day, there would be between 54,000 and 99,000 fewer heart attacks each year and between 44,000 and 92,000 fewer deaths, according to the study, …

The study involved a computerized model that analyzed previous studies to estimate the benefits of salt reduction on lowering blood pressure and the lowered blood pressure’s effect on decreasing heart disease, stroke and heart attacks.

The researchers found that everyone would benefit from less salt, but people at higher risk for heart problems — blacks, people with hypertension and people over 65 — would benefit most.

(emphasis mine)

So, here’s the logic: if hypertension can be reduced by decreasing salt intake, then eating too much salt must cause the hypertension, so if everyone reduces their salt intake, there will be no hypertension and all these lives will be saved.

But there’s a huge problem with this logic. Salt intake is not the only cause of hypertension. What about stress? I would argue that a lot more of the population has high blood pressure because of stress than salt. Do these scientists seriously think that stress alone won’t cause hypertension and therefore heart disease and stroke?  Why would you focus solely on limiting a necessary dietary mineral instead of dealing with stress?

I can tell you right now, with all certainty, that black people don’t have hypertension because we eat “too much” salt. Black people have high blood pressure because being black in American is stressful.   Reducing salt does nothing about the root cause of the hypertension, which is stress.  It would be far more effective to prescribe meditation and yoga. But the nutrition industry in American is all about creating “bogeyfoods” that are going to kill you. Right now!

All of these nutritional bogeyfoods are about the intense desire to want to control your health, it’s all about the foods you choose and nothing else. “If you make all the right choices,” they imply “You’ll live forever.”

No you won’t. You will die. You will age and die and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Salt your food.

Couple this article in the Times with this post in the Huffington Post and you can’t blame a person for being suspicious. The semantics of death means Dr. Gayatri Devi can’t put down that her patient died of Alzheimer’s disease, that her patient forgot how to breath.  She has to put some made-up heart disease, because we as the general public, members of the departments of health included, don’t believe you can have a “natural” death from anything other than heart attacks, cancer and strokes. How skewed are these numbers?

January 22, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.