Prevention Series 5 of 8 | A High Salt Diet Increases Cancer Risk

by Natalie

Thank you for tuning in today! In case you missed the first half of the series, here are the links to all previous articles. I highly recommend you read them all to get the big picture. These recommendations formed the type of diet pattern I follow today.

This brings me right up to today’s featured recommendation for cancer prevention (recommendations are from the AICR Second Expert Report on Cancer Prevention):

“Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium)”.

At first, this recommendation may strike you as a bit odd. We are used to hearing about salt and blood pressure but not about salt and cancer risk.

Researchers from the AICR’s expert report on cancer prevention found that a high salt diet increases risk for stomach cancer. Studies have shown that a high salt diet can damage the stomach lining, putting us at a greater risk for cancer. You may be wondering why I chose to feature a recommendation related to stomach cancer on a breast cancer blog. While it is good to be aware of things related specifically to breast cancer, I firmly believe we need to view cancer prevention as a whole. If we don’t view it as a whole, we could be missing very important pieces of the puzzle.

How Much Is Too Much?

The 2010 Dietary guidelines for Americans advise us to consume less than 2300mg of salt (sodium) per day. The AICR is a tad more lenient, saying to consume less than 2400mg per day. To better visualize this seemingly obscure number, one teaspoon of table salt has about 2300mg of sodium. According to the CDC, the average sodium intake among Americans is 3500mg per day.

Where Does all the Salt Come From?

Many of us may not even realize we are consuming too much salt. Salt is hidden in a lot of packaged foods and restaurant foods. A general rule of thumb, the more processed the food, the greater the sodium content. Think of a fresh cucumber. In its natural form it is very low sodium. When we preserve it and turn it into a pickle, it becomes very high sodium. When you start eating more fresh foods, your sodium intake will drop significantly.

A more obvious place salt comes from is the salt shaker. A very easy way to decrease your sodium intake is to stop adding salt to a prepared meal. Yes, some salt is necessary when making homemade meals but the real problem comes when you add a lot more at the table.

If we continually consume a lot of salt our taste buds will build up a tolerance to it, making us seem like we need to add more before something tastes good. When you start to decrease your salt intake, your taste buds will adjust accordingly.

Foods High In Sodium

Here are some foods I want you to have on your radar. I am usually pretty shocked when I look at the salt content of these foods. The next time you reach for any of them, check out the sodium content (per serving) on the nutrient label.

  • Beef Jerky
  • Soup or Broth
  • Ramen Noodles
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Soy Sauce
  • Seasoning Packets
  • Cheese


The human body actually needs some sodium on a daily basis to function properly. The problem is that we usually consume way more than we need. A diet high in salt increases our risk for stomach cancer. Lowering our intake to less than 2300mg per day will not only protect us against cancer, it will also help prevent high blood pressure and serious complications associated with it. Fresh foods are naturally low in sodium. Work towards increasing the amount of fresh foods in your diet to lower your sodium intake.

Tell me what you think! Leave a comment in the comments section below!


photo by: Michelle Brunner


Serah Japheth December 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Thanks for the information. I take note and will pass on this very important advice to my children and others who may be ignorant.

Natalie December 19, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Your welcome. I am glad you found it helpful. Best to you!

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