Could salicylates in food have contributed to the decline in cardiovascular disease mortality? A new hypothesis

Am J Public Health. 1997 Sep;87(9):1554-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.9.1554.


Objectives: The prophylactic effect of aspirin (at 80 mg/day) for the prevention of cardiovascular disease mortality has long been recognized. This study examined whether other salicylates are present in comparable quantities in the US food supply.

Methods: To estimate the order of magnitude for salicylates in the food supply, annual production data for selected synthetic salicylates were analyzed.

Results: Production figures for 1960 indicate exposure to salicylates of 250 mg/day per person, or 95 mg/day per person excluding aspirin. Trend data indicate a rise in the production of salicylates over time, reaching 341 mg/day per person, or 126 mg/day per person excluding aspirin, in 1970.

Conclusions: The US ingestion of salicylates with aspirinlike properties may have increased to the point that many susceptible individuals have received a beneficial effect that has contributed to the decline in cardiovascular disease mortality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Food Additives / administration & dosage*
  • Food Additives / chemistry
  • Food Analysis
  • Humans
  • Salicylates / administration & dosage*
  • Salicylates / analysis
  • United States


  • Food Additives
  • Salicylates