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Statistical Models and Causal Inference by Jasjeet S. Sekhon, David Collier, David A. Freedman

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9Salt and Blood Pressure: Conventional Wisdom Reconsidered

With Diana B. Petitti

        ABSTRACT. The “salt hypothesis” is that higher levels of salt in the diet lead to higher levels of blood pressure, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Intersalt, a cross-sectional study of salt levels and blood pressures in fifty-two populations, is often cited to support the salt hypothesis, but the data are somewhat contradictory. Four of the populations (Kenya, Papua, and two Indian tribes in Brazil) do have low levels of salt and blood pressure. Across the other forty-eight populations, however, blood pressures go down as salt levels go up—contradicting the hypothesis. Experimental evidence suggests that the effect of a large reduction in salt ...

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