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Could Too Much Salt Harm MS Patients?

Researchers find a link but say it's too soon to recommend reducing sodium intake

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Salt's influence on MS is a subject of increasing interest, said Nicholas LaRocca, vice president of health care delivery and policy research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

"At this stage you really can't assign cause and effect, but it's beginning to look like there is a significant role of salt in MS disease activity and progression," he said.

The mechanism for this association isn't known, LaRocca said. Salt may make the immune system more prone to the disease, he suggested.

He agreed that there isn't enough evidence to recommend that MS patients reduce salt in their diet.

"However, in a more general sense, we should all be watching our salt intake. We should all be careful about consuming excessive amounts of salt," he said.

For the study, salt intake was estimated from sodium excreted in urine samples the participants provided three times over nine months. In addition, the researchers tracked the course of the patients' MS from 2010 to 2012.

After accounting for factors such as smoking, age, gender, length of time after diagnosis, weight, treatment and vitamin D, the link between more salt and worsening MS remained, the researchers said.

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