Multiple Sclerosis Not Tied to High Dietary Sodium Intake

salt shaker
salt shaker
Previous research suggests a possible role for sodium intake in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis.

High sodium intake is not associated with an increased risk for multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a prospective cohort study published in Neurology.

Researchers evaluated food frequency questionnaires completed by 80,920 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 94,511 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II over a span of 3,096,959 person-years to determine whether dietary sodium intake increased the risk for MS. A total of 479 MS cases were reported during follow-up.

The investigators found no significant association between dietary sodium and MS risk (multivariable hazard ratio [HR]pooled for 100 mg/day increases in sodium = 1.00; 95% CI, 0.96-1.03). At baseline, total sodium intake showed no association with higher risk for MS (HRpooled 0.98; 95% CI, 0.74-1.30; P <.75). Additionally, no association between cumulative average sodium intake and MS risk during follow-up was observed (HRpooled 1.02; 95% CI, 0.76-1.37; P <.76).

To provide a more comprehensive analysis, the investigators suggest that future research should evaluate whether dietary sodium intake increases MS risk across both genders. More than 95% of the women in the current study were white, and the authors suggest that future research should examine whether a risk exists among other ethnic groups. Food frequency questionnaires, which were used in this study, often lead to underestimation of sodium consumption and may not have provided truly accurate insight into dietary patterns among these 2 cohorts.

Despite the study’s conclusion that dietary sodium intake does not increase risk for MS, the investigators believe moderating sodium intake “is nevertheless favorable with regard to the prevention of cardiovascular disease.”

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Cortese M, Yuan C, Chitnis T, Ascherio A, Munger K. No association between dietary sodium intake and the risk of multiple sclerosis. Neurology. 2017;89:1322-1329.