1. Analysis of age-adjusted death rates from 21 countries over a 20-year period identified the presence of a strong positive association between recorded mortality from stroke, hypertension and stomach cancer. However, the slopes of regression lines for secular trends analyses varied considerably from country to country, suggesting an inconsistency in the pattern of the relationship.

2. A death certificate study of diagnostic concordance correctly identified previously known disease associations but failed to recognise any special relationship between stroke and stomach cancer or hypertension and stomach cancer.

3. Our results fail to confirm the presence of a unique relationship between stroke and stomach cancer. On the basis of these observations, the hypothesis that exposure to salt increases an individual's risk of developing both stroke and stomach cancer seems unlikely.

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