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Action urged on smoking and salt

Cutting salt intake, smoking, and cardiovascular problems could save 32 million lives each year around the world by 2015, a new study claims.

Lowering salt consumption from between nine and 12g per person per day to around 1.7g could prevent 8.5 million deaths a year, the research found.

This could be done through a voluntary cut in the salt content of processed foods, alongside a media campaign to encourage people to change their diet.

And antitobacco measures such as workplace smoking bans, higher taxes, and health warnings on cigarette packets could save a further 5.5 million lives, it added.

Experts from the University of Auckland in New Zealand also said targeting people at risk of heart and artery disease and providing them with statins and aspirin may save a further 17.9 million deaths per year.

Professor Robert Beaglehole, a member of the international team, said: "Nothing like this has ever been presented for chronic diseases before.

"What's impressive about the science is that it shows absolutely without doubt that we have the evidence to make a huge impact on the health of people in low to middle-income countries by preventing these diseases and at the same time treating people who have these diseases or are at high risk.

"We can avert 32 million deaths by 2015, and approximately half of these averted deaths will be among relatively young people under 70 years of age."

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University of Auckland

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