Women are more sensitive to salt than men, regardless of their age or ethnicity. This is what researchers report in a new study published in the journal Hypertension (Source 1) focusing on the mechanisms of salt sensitivity in blood pressure.
In a press release (Source 2), the scientists explain that they have evaluated recent epidemiological data allowing them to shed a little more light on this increased salt sensitivity in women.
“ The reality is that women and men regulate their blood pressure differently and that our blood pressures are different at the start “, says Dr. Eric Belin de Chantemèle, researcher at the Vascular Biology Center of the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University (United States), and co-author of the study.
For the researchers, it seems that the XX sex chromosomes (against XY for men) predispose women to an increased sensitivity to salt, probably because they need to drastically increase their blood volume during pregnancy. During the fertile period, estrogens would help limit the harmful effects of this increased sensitivity to salt. And menopause would thus be marked by an increased risk of salt-related hypertension due to the fall in estrogen levels.
“ Working primarily on male humans and animal models fuels the misconception that women are less sensitive to salt write the authors of the study. “ Salt sensitivity is one of the main factors of hypertension. And, if you look at people who have treatment-resistant hypertension, […] most are salt sensitive “, emphasizes Dr. Belin de Chantemèle. “ It is very important to know the causee,” he adds.
An adrenal gland hormone involved
“ We think it’s mostly the vascular system that doesn’t relax in response to sodium intake. [ce] which leads to an increase in pressure “, details the researcher about this feminine particularity vis-à-vis salt. With animal studies showing that the kidneys work well in females when it comes to excreting excess sodium, scientists are looking more to a “problem” with the cardiovascular system, as blood vessels should expand to help the body maintain stable blood pressure. In women, this phenomenon would be imperfect due to high levels of aldosteronea hormone produced by the adrenal glandwhich regulates the salt-water balance in the body and has a direct effect on blood pressure.
In women at high risk of salt-related hypertension, targeting this hormone would therefore be a particularly effective therapeutic approach, according to the study authors.
The latter finally specify that women would be more attracted to salt than men, which, inevitably, does not help. They suggest drastically reducing, or even eliminating, your consumption of table salt, to limit its harmful effects on health.
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