High salt intake, is it a risk factor for MS or have you been sold a used car?


There are some people I listen too at meetings and think wow!. Sadly there are some people that I listen too, I hear the dogma and feel like I am being sold a used car.

We are told by our bossess that we should publish in journals like Nature and Science. As such, a couple of months ago, I saw a senior boss giving a junior scientist a hard time because they questioned the value of chasing a Nature publication. They are great to get but they can be alot of work and expense to satisfy the reviewers if you are nt part of the inner sanctum. I went to their defence to say that not all that is publised in Nature is ace, but to my surprise the retort I got was “I bet all your work is shit”. I would say, “At least it is reproducible shit” and take pride that the stuff we do, is reproducible by other people.

However, for some people the location of where the publication goes is all important. It is true that these journals have influence.

The issue of salt intake is one example.

Sodium chloride drives autoimmune disease by the induction of pathogenic TH17 cells. Nature. 2013 Apr 25;496(7446):518-22. It has an altmetric of about 500 and as many citations and so is a citation classic. This has spawned alot of research and papers.

MD2 was in there quickly and wrote

“There would appear to be a methodological flaw in this study which makes it’s extrapolation to the human situation tenuous. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov… (Food & Drink intake of mouse). Food intake of a mouse (C57Bl/6 strain used in this study). 4.4g/day and fluid = 6ml of fluid a day. 1% salt in water = 1g in 100ml and 4% in food = 4g in 100g of food. This is 236 mg/day in 25g mouse = 236mg/25g = 9.44g/kg so 660g for a human. Half a Kg of salt a day. Even doing a factor of ten 60g of salt which is 4 times a recommended limit of 15g/day and twice the 35g/day found in some papers. There was no dose response done in the nature paper, or repetition of the result reported. Give 18g of salt in water and if makes humans vomit…..Poor old mice”

This was removed (rather anti-science) a few times. Shame it wasn’t read. It only recently has spawned another citation this week

High-salt diet does not boost neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in a model of α-synucleinopathy. Heras-Garvin A, Refolo V, Reindl M, Wenning GK, Stefanova N. Neuroinflammation. 2020;17(1):35.

This not MS, but suggests the original story was not great and this kind of goes with this many other studies

Fitzgerald KC et al. “Our results, based on multiple assessments of urine sodium excretion over 5 years and standardized clinical and MRI follow-up, suggest that salt intake does not influence MS disease course or activity”. Anal Neurol 2017;82:20-29.

So now you can see it takes alot of effort and years to discredit ideas. We saw this with MMR vaccine and the CCSVI thing. We will see it again.

So more evidence that too much salt gives you MS is weak, but we know this has to be kept in moderation to help maintain a healthy heart.

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