While universal iodisation of salt helped control iodine deficiency disorders, it could be increasing the risk of high blood pressure a leading cause of heart ailments especially in the elderly, says retired Col Rajesh Chauhan, in his latest book.
The book, titled "Could universal iodisation of salt be the chief cause of hypertension assuming epidemic proportion?", has been published by Lap Lambert Berlin, Germany.
The book is based on a recent study on nearly 100 elderly patients in Agra, UP.
The study included patients who were consuming iodised salt regularly and were compared with another group who were not using iodised salt but pebble salt, which is also iodised, but the iodine content gets washed off, thereby minimising or avoiding iodine in the salt.
"The results indicated the people consuming iodised salt were more at risk of suffering high blood pressure than the ones who were using pebble salt, washed before use," Chauhan told IANS.
Excess consumption of iodine can also cause various forms of rhythm disturbances in heart, and lead to precipitating angina and heart failure.
To control iodine deficiency disorders around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) in a statement in August 1994 stressed universal salt iodisation as the principal public health measure for eliminating Iodine Deficient Disorders.
Since 1992, India has been using iodised salt, irrespective of the fact whether the region is actually deficient of iodine or not.
While iodine deficiency in children can raise a condition called cretinism, usually characterised with laziness, crying, pot belly, and low intellect; excess iodine intake as a result of universal salt iodisation could be causing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, the findings showed.
Though the WHO stated, "monitoring of sodium (salt) intake and iodine intake at country level is needed to adjust salt iodisation over time", India failed to monitor it, Chauhan said.
He stressed the need for more research, which must include the overarching necessity of continuing with enforcing consumption of iodised salt even in regions that are not deficient in iodine.
Immediate corrective steps are needed at national and global levels, and supplemental iodine is to be used only in areas that are deficient in iodine.
More importantly, non-iodised salt must also be made available in the market, which has been missing from the shelves for past two decades and more, Chauhan suggested.