Study Links High Sodium Intake to Increased Risk of Eczema

Study Links High Sodium Intake to Increased Risk of Eczema
Study Links High Sodium Intake to Increased Risk of Eczema. Credit | Shutterstock

United States – Physicians have already discouraged people from using salt because of the potential damage it can do to the heart, and it seems that sodium is also bad for the skin.

A study showed that as the level of salt consumed per day increased, the risk of developing the skin disease, known as the eczema or atopic dermatitis, also increased, as reported by HealthDay.

Research Findings

The same study, spearheaded by Dr. Katrina Abuabara, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of California in San Francisco, opined that restricting dietary sodium intake can be considered a cost-effective and low-risk management strategy for atopic dermatitis.

The data came from an ongoing British research database, UK Biobank, which recruited about 216,000 volunteers aged 37 and older.

In the Biobank effort, people were asked to pass a urine test, which measures the amount of sodium a person has consumed.

The prevalence of self-reported eczema was 5%, as assessed among the participants in the Biobank.

Sodium and Eczema

Participants’ typical daily ‘urine sodium excretion’ rate was 2595 milligrams on average; meanwhile, folks increased their daily sodium balance by 74 milligrams, and their risk of flare-ups of eczema went up by 22%. Gender-wise, it appeared that women were more likely to be affected than men.

Individuals with high levels of Na in their urine tested had an increased risk of severe eczema by 11%, the researchers pointed out.

On the contrary, the team observed that participants who followed certain measures regarding health, specifically regarding salt intake, had a 12% lower chance of developing eczema.

Historical Context and Implications

The research was released online on June 5 in the Archives of JAMA Dermatology.

Abuabara’s group also acknowledged that salt’s relation to eczema has previously been identified. For that matter, as they pointed out in their journal news release, ‘‘reduced sodium intake was considered as a therapeutic intervention for atopic dermatitis over a century ago.’’

They said that the study was not set up to establish cause-and-effect, which means that it is likely that people who like salt also eat other foods that are hazardous to their skin.

“However, our findings are consistent with literature showing that excess dietary sodium can be stored in the skin,” the researchers wrote.

It was also found that sodium plays a part in the inflammatory processes that may possibly be behind the development of eczema.

Regardless of the underlying causes of the association, the researchers modestly suggest that it couldn’t hurt to part with that salt shaker, as reported by HealthDay.

Recommendations and Future Research

“Most Americans eat too much salt and can safely reduce their intake to recommended levels,” Abuabara said in a UCSF news release. “Eczema flares can be difficult for patients to cope with, especially when they are unable to anticipate them and don’t have recommendations on what they can do to avoid them.”

“Our study opens the potential for future studies on the restriction of dietary sodium intake as an intervention for atopic dermatitis that would be cost-effective, low risk, and widely available,” the research team said.