'Now salt is safe to eat: Health fascists proved wrong after lecturing us all for years' is a silly headline with an entirely inappropriate use of the word 'fascists'.
The article is another by the paper's health correspondent Jo Willey. She says:
Salt is safe to eat
Well, it always was, just in small doses.
Salt is safe to eat – and cutting our daily intake does nothing to lower the risk of suffering from heart disease, research shows.
For years, doctors have been telling us that too much salt is bad and official NHS guidance aims to speed up new measures to control how much we eat.
Yes, those 'fascist' doctors 'lecturing us all for years' about the dangers of too much salt - something the Express would never do...
Willey also says:
Earlier this year the Daily Express revealed how “nanny state” council bosses at Stockport Council banned salt shakers in fish and chip shops as part of a healthy living drive.
And she's right - the Express did run that story earlier this year. But it wasn't true then and it isn't true now. Neither the Council, nor anyone else, 'banned' salt from fish and chip shops in Stockport.
Willey goes on to describe the results of a study by Professor Rod Taylor at the University of Exeter:
this review has shown slashing our daily intake is not as beneficial as thought. People who cut the salt they ate by a small amount saw their blood pressure reduce after six months.
'Not as beneficial' is not the same as 'does nothing' - the claim made in the first paragraph of the article. And that reduction in blood pressure shows there clearly is a benefit.
Then one of Taylor's quotes goes further in suggesting the Express' angle isn't quite right:
He said: “We believe that we didn’t see big benefits in this study because the people in the trials we analysed only reduced their salt intake by a moderate amount, so the effect on blood pressure and heart disease was not large.”
But Willey's article contains no doubts about Taylor's research. Compare that to heartwire, which spoke to two people whose work Taylor included in his meta-analysis:
"The review by Taylor adds little to our knowledge about the health effects of sodium reduction," Dr Lawrence Appel (Johns Hopkins University Medical School, Baltimore, MD) told heartwire. None of the studies included were designed to test the effects of sodium-reduction interventions on CVD events and mortality, he says, and "even in aggregate, the number of events is small and the statistical power is limited."
And Dr Nancy Cook from Harvard Medical School said:
"This was a crude analysis of the results in these studies, and therefore loses information. In my view, several of the studies were misrepresented and the results of the review are not reliable."
Taylor, himself, concedes that the review may have been underpowered.
They also quote Katharine Jenner from Consensus Action on Salt and Health:
"Contrary to the author's concluding headline—The Cochrane Library Press release announces, 'Cutting down on salt doesn't reduce your chance of dying,'—the review further demonstrates that reduced salt intake reduces blood pressure, [with them] stating that 'our findings are consistent with the belief that salt reduction is beneficial in normotensive and hypertensive people.'"
"It is very disappointing that the message from this small review indicates that salt reduction may not be beneficial; this is a completely inappropriate conclusion, given the strong evidence and the overwhelming public health consensus that salt raises blood pressure which leads to cardiovascular disease."
A 'completely inappropriate conclusion', but one that the Express has decided to splash all over the front page.