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Excess Sodium Intake Linked to Higher Risk of Atopic Dermatitis

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A new study reveals that high levels of sodium, commonly consumed through salt, can significantly increase the risk of eczema flare-ups. This inflammatory skin condition is characterized by dry and itchy patches.

Previous research has linked sodium in the skin to autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions, including eczema. Studies have also shown that consuming fast food, which typically contains high levels of dietary sodium, is associated with an increased risk and severity of eczema, particularly among teenagers.

The new study found that consuming just one extra gram of sodium above the daily recommendation could increase the risk of eczema flare-ups by 22 percent. One gram of sodium is roughly equivalent to the amount in half a teaspoon of table salt or a Big Mac hamburger from McDonald’s.

The World Health Organization recommends a daily sodium intake of less than two grams, while the UK’s National Health Service suggests 2.3 grams per day.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) noted that eczema has become more common in recent years, especially in industrialized countries. This trend suggests that environmental and lifestyle factors, such as diet, play a significant role.

Limiting sodium intake could therefore be a simple and effective way for eczema patients to manage their condition, the researchers said. The study’s findings are published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Dermatology.

“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,” said Katrina Abuabara, an associate professor of dermatology at UCSF and the study’s corresponding author.

The research team used data from over 200,000 people aged 30-70 years old from the UK Biobank, including urine samples and electronic medical records. They analyzed the urine samples to determine each participant’s sodium intake and reviewed medical records to identify eczema diagnoses and their severity.

The researchers found that consuming just one gram of sodium more than the recommended amount increased the risk of developing eczema by 22 percent.

Future research could explore reducing sodium in daily diets as a potential intervention for managing eczema.