A new study has found that people who sprinkle salt on their food are at increased risk of early death.

A study of more than 500,000 people concluded that those who always add spices have a 28% higher chance of premature death compared to people who rarely or never do so.

Typically, about three in 100 people between the ages of 40 and 69 die early in the general population.

But a study published in the European Heart Journal found that one extra person in every 100 could succumb to an early death as a result of added salt.

The study found that men in their 50s lost about 2.28 years of life due to extra salt intake.

For women of the same age, life expectancy can be reduced by about a year and a half.

Almost 18,500 premature deaths (under age 75) were recorded during the nine years of follow-up after data collection between 2006 and 2010.

The new study was led by Professor Lu Qi from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans in the US.

Professor Qi, who worked with colleagues from Harvard Medical School, said: “In the Western diet, added table salt accounts for 6%-20% of total salt intake and provides a unique way to assess the relationship between usual sodium intake and risk of death.”

Even “modest reductions” in sodium intake can lead to “significant health benefits,” Professor Tee said.

The study took into account factors that may affect the results, including age, sex, race, obesity, body mass index (BMI), smoking, alcohol use, physical activity and diet, as well as health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

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The risk of early death associated with added salt was slightly reduced in people who ate more fruit and vegetables – but the difference was not “significant”.

“As our study is the first to report a relationship between added dietary salt and mortality, more research is needed to confirm the findings before making recommendations,” said Dr. Tee.

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British Heart Foundation senior cardiac nurse Chloe MacArthur warned that the “vast majority of salt” is already in foods before they are bought – meaning people are consuming more than they realize – and urged ministers to find ways to encourage the food industry to cut back on salt.

“We need some salt in our diet, but too much can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart attack and stroke,” she said.

The National Food Strategy, a major review by businessman and restaurateur Henry Dimbleby, included recommendations for a tax on salt and sugar in a bid to reduce obesity.

But they refused it Boris Johnson, who insisted now is not the time to start ‘new taxes’ on junk food and argued that people should simply “eat less”.

https://news.sky.com/story/adding-extra-salt-to-food-could-reduce-life-expectancy-by-more-than-two-years-study-finds-12648718

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