Background: Although the influence of salt, per se, on the risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease (CVD) might differ from that of salt-preserved foods, few studies have simultaneously examined the effects of sodium and salted foods on the risk of either cancer or CVD.
Objective: We simultaneously examined associations between sodium and salted food consumption and the risk of cancer and CVD.
Design: During 1995-1998, a validated food-frequency questionnaire was administered to 77,500 men and women aged 45-74 y. During up to 598,763 person-years of follow-up until the end of 2004, 4476 cases of cancer and 2066 cases of CVD were identified.
Results: Higher consumption of sodium was associated with a higher risk of CVD but not with the risk of total cancer: multivariate hazard ratios for the highest compared with lowest quintiles of intake were 1.19 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.40; P for trend: 0.06) for CVD and 1.04 (95% CI: 0.93, 1.16; P for trend: 0.63) for total cancer. Higher consumption of salted fish roe was associated with higher risk of total cancer, and higher consumption of cooking and table salt was associated with higher risk of CVD. Similar results were seen for the risk of gastric or colorectal cancer and stroke.
Conclusions: Sodium intake as a whole salt equivalent may not increase the risk of cancer but may increase that of CVD. In contrast, salted food intake may increase the risk of cancer. Our findings support the notion that sodium and salted foods have differential influences on the development of cancer and CVD.