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A new study by UC Berkeley School of Public Health found that sodium intake is associated with a higher risk for developing atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema.

Researchers looked at the sodium content of urine samples from about 215,000 adults in the UK from ages to 30 to 70. They found that one additional daily gram of sodium was linked with 11% higher risk of developing severe eczema.

“This research is exciting because it has been recently shown that sodium is stored in the skin, which could help to explain the connection with inflammatory pathways in eczema,” lead author and Associate Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology Katrina Abuabara said. Abuabara is also a dermatologist at UCSF.

Atopic dermatitis has become increasingly common in industrialized countries where fast food and high-sodium snacks abound. This research, done in collaboration with UCSF, suggests that lifestyle factors such as diet could affect the rates of disease.

According to Dr. Abuabara, most new treatments for eczema focus on alleviating flare-ups rather than addressing their root cause. These insights can play a pivotal role in combating atopic dermatitis by providing patients an affordable way to treat their flares by consuming less sodium in their diet.

It’s well known that too much salt can lead to a higher risk of hypertension and heart disease, however less has been studied about its role on chronic inflammatory diseases like atopic dermatitis.

This research and continued studies looking at the association between sodium intake and skin conditions will allow patients to more carefully follow sodium dietary guidelines.

“Although it hasn’t yet been proven that reducing dietary salt can improve eczema, most Americans eat too much salt and can safely reduce salt intake to recommended levels,” Abuabara said.

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