media release

Reducing salt could save thousands of lives

February 12, 2013

Michel Joffres, 778.433.7412; (in transit, returning tonight from Edmonton)
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017;

Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved over the next decade if North Americans reduced their sodium consumption closer to recommended levels, according to a new study by researchers at Simon Fraser University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the Harvard Medical School.

Published this week in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, the study set out to quantify the health benefits of population-wide sodium reduction. Using three different computer models, researchers from each of the institutions estimated how lowering sodium would potentially save lives by reducing the number of heart attacks and strokes.

One method used observational cardiovascular outcome follow-up data, while the other two tracked the established evidence that salt reduction lowers blood pressure, inferring the cardiovascular effects of salt reduction from data about the relationship of blood pressure to cardiovascular disease.

Each reached the same conclusion. “Substantial benefits were consistent across all three models when sodium was reduced from current levels to that nearer to the guideline of 2,300 mg per day – with estimates of 280,000 – 500,000 lives saved over the next decade,” says SFU health sciences professor Michel Joffres, one of the lead authors.

Joffres has undertaken numerous studies on sodium reduction in Canada and has helped number crunch for the government. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control asked him to participate in the newly published study.

The average North American consumes about 3,500 mg/day with some studies citing the average male as consuming double the recommended daily limit.

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.


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