Studies link gene to liking salty food

PHOTOS: bioethics.com

PHOTOS: bioethics.com

A new research from the University of Edinburgh has shed light on the role genes play in why some people crave salty food.

A statement on Wednesday from the University in Edinburgh, revealed that the study results of the research have been published in the American Journal Circulation.

It said the study helped researchers to understand how the brain controls the appetite for salt, and how it impacts on blood pressure levels.

Matthew Bailey, who led the study at the University of Edinburgh/BHF (The British Heart Foundation) Centre for Cardiovascular Science, said scientists modified mice to remove a gene in a small number of cells in their brains.

He said the gene is known to be linked with high blood pressure in humans, but how it is controlled is unclear.

Bailey said removing the gene caused the mice to develop a strong appetite for salt, and when offered a choice of normal drinking water or saltwater, they consumed three times more saltwater than unmodified mice.

He said the trial also showed that the modified mice went on to experience high blood pressure for as long as they drank saltwater.

“When the saltwater is removed their blood pressure returned to normal.

“The findings suggest the gene plays an important role in controlling both the appetite for salt, and its effect in raising blood pressure,’’ he said.

The scientists said the team would now research whether an affordable drug, already used to treat heart disease in some countries, can help to bring salt intake under control in patients with heart failure.

Bailey noted that in the United Kingdom, people routinely eat much more salt than their bodies need.
He said for most people this is bad for the heart, blood vessels and kidneys.

“Our study shows that we have a genetic drive to consume salty food.

“Understanding how this process works may help us reduce the amount of salt we eat and make it easier for people to follow low-salt diets,’’ he added.



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