Heart DiseaseNewsletter

Drink more & live longer?

Executive summary

* A study used the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study (ARIC) to examine hydration levels in participants against markers of aging.

* The concentration of sodium in the blood (serum sodium) was used as a marker for hydration. Chronic disease, premature death and a number of health measurements were used as markers for aging.

* There were three main claims. High serum sodium (low hydration) was associated with i) a 39% increased risk of chronic disease; ii) a 21% increased risk of premature death; and iii) a 50% higher risk of having a higher biological age than actual age.

* There were a few inaccuracies in the paper, which raised doubts about robustness.

* People were placed into four sodium level groups to be compared. The biggest issue with the research was that the four groups were very uneven – both in ranges of sodium levels and numbers of people in each group.

* The outcome of this was that the results applied almost entirely to only 3.5% of people studied.

* The data revealed a bigger finding, which was not headlined. The single highest risk factor was for premature death if you were in the lowest sodium level group. If sodium is a marker of hydration, then the most hydrated people were the most likely to die early.

* The implication of the paper was drink more or age faster. The missing caveat was "but not too much."


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