Does high salt intake worsen disease progression in MS?

Sodium intake and multiple sclerosis activity and progression in BENEFIT

Fitzgerald KC, Munger KL, Hartung HP, et al; BENEFIT Study Group.

Ann Neurol 2017; 82:20-29.



To assess whether a high-salt diet, as measured by urinary sodium concentration, is associated with faster conversion from clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) to multiple sclerosis (MS) and MS activity and disability.


BENEFIT was a randomized clinical trial comparing early versus delayed interferon beta-1b treatment in 465 patients with a CIS. Each patient provided a median of 14 (interquartile range = 13-16) spot urine samples throughout the 5-year follow-up. We estimated 24-hour urine sodium excretion level at each time point using the Tanaka equations, and assessed whether sodium levels estimated from the cumulative average of the repeated measures were associated with clinical (conversion to MS, Expanded Disability Status Scale [EDSS]) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) outcomes.


Average 24-hour urine sodium levels were not associated with conversion to clinically definite MS over the 5-year follow-up (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.67-1.24 per 1g increase in estimated daily sodium intake), nor were they associated with clinical or MRI outcomes (new active lesions after 6 months: HR = 1.05, 95% CI = 0.97-1.13; relative change in T2 lesion volume: -0.11, 95% CI = -0.25 to 0.04; change in EDSS: -0.01, 95% CI = -0.09 to 0.08; relapse rate: HR = 0.78, 95% CI = 0.56-1.07). Results were similar in categorical analyses using quintiles.


Our results, based on multiple assessments of urine sodium excretion over 5 years and standardized clinical and MRI follow-up, suggest that salt intake does not influence MS disease course or activity.

A counter view is reported in this study

Farez MF, Fiol MP, Gaitán MI, Quintana FJ, Correale J. Sodium intake is associated with increased disease activity in multiple sclerosis. JNNP 2015; 86:26-31.

Both references are cited in the neurochecklist:

Multiple sclerosis (MS): prognostic features

Abstract link 1

Abstract link 2

By Dubravko Sorić SoraZG on Flickr, CC BY 2.0, Link


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