The popular condiment linked to stomach cancer

If you haven’t been cautioned about your salt intake by a doctor, you’d have to be living under a rock.

Of course, sodium is an essential nutrient the body needs — only in small amounts. The problem is that in the typical American diet, there’s no shortage of it, and it doesn’t just raise your blood pressure…

Salt can hijack your immune system and interfere with the cell powerhouses that keep the heart ticking along.

A salty diet can even starve the brain of oxygen, resulting in Alzheimer’s-like changes.

And now, research is giving us one more reason to think twice about grabbing that shaker of salt: an increased risk for stomach cancer.

Almost 40 percent higher risk

It may surprise you, but in Asian countries, the connection between salty foods and stomach cancer has long been known. However, what scientists did not know was whether or not this risk applied to other populations.

So, researchers at MedUni Vienna set out to close that knowledge gap by accessing the health data of more than 470,000 adults found in the UK-Biobank.

Specifically, the scientists focused on five years of questionnaires where participants were asked, “How often do you add salt to your food?”

This allowed them to compare regular salt intake to stomach cancer rates.

And overall, the researchers found that people who said they always or frequently added salt to their food were at a 39 percent higher risk of developing stomach cancer over a period of 11 years than those who never or rarely added an extra pinch of salt to their food.

When asked about their research, the team had this to say: “Our research shows the connection between the frequency of added salt and stomach cancer in Western countries too.

“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.”

Stomach cancer has been on the rise

In the list of the most common types of cancer worldwide, stomach cancer is in fifth place.

And though stomach cancer is usually associated with older age, the researchers noted that incidents of stomach cancer in adults under 50 have been steadily increasing.

Salt consumption could also be the missing link researchers have been looking for to explain why stomach cancer rates are on the rise, especially among younger people.

Other risk factors for stomach cancer include tobacco use and alcohol consumption, Helicobacter pylori infection and being overweight or considered obese.

Striking a salt balance

Because salt is important to maintain a balance of body fluids and keep muscles and nerves functioning smoothly, your goal should be to optimize your intake.

However, if your diet includes processed foods, it’s unlikely you’d ever get too little.

Easy ways to cut back on your salt intake include:

  • Buy unsalted butter – Using salted butter can cause the numbers to add up on your sodium counter fast. So stick with unsalted butter for everyday use, as well as baking.
  • Read labels – You’d be surprised at how much sodium is lurking in processed foods. Some of the worst offenders include canned soup, cottage cheese, frozen foods, sauces and condiments. Check labels for low-sodium versions.
  • Ask for condiments ‘on the side’ – By asking for them ‘on the side’, you can control how much you use and how much sodium you consume.
  • Skip the deli meats – Lunchmeats like ham and turkey can be packed with sodium. This is true of breakfast meats, including bacon and sausage, as well.
  • Opt for alternatives – Instead of reaching for the salt shaker, try fresh herbs and spices on your food.

The best advice would be to eat as little processed food as possible. When you cook a meal starting with fresh ingredients, you can control the amount of salt you might add — either during cooking or at the table.

You can add less sodium to homemade sauces as well, instead reaching for herbs and spices that actually have health-boosting benefits.

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Frequent salting of food increases the risk of stomach cancer — EurekAlert!

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.