Sweeteners linked to heart disease in a new study

Sweeteners linked to heart disease in a new study

Sweeteners linked to heart disease in a new study

Academics have identified a possible link between artificial sweeteners and heart disease in a new study.

The researchers said food additives “should not be considered a safe and healthy alternative to sugar.”

The new study, published in The BMJ, looked at information on more than 100,000 French adults.

The authors, led by experts from the Sorbonne University Paris Nord, examined the participants’ intake of sweeteners from all food sources, including beverages, table sweeteners and dairy products, comparing it to the risk of heart or circulatory disease. .

Participants had an average age of 42 and four out of five were women.

Researchers tracked sweetener intake using diet logs.

Participants recorded everything they ate, including the brand used, for 24 hours, with the diet diary repeated three times at six-month intervals: two on weekdays and one on the weekend.

About 37% of the participants consumed artificial sweeteners.

During a mean follow-up period of nine years, participants recorded 1,502 cardiovascular events.

This included heart attacks, stokes, transient ischemic attacks (also known as mini strokes), and angina – chest pain related to poor blood flow to the heart muscles.

The researchers found that consuming artificial sweeteners was linked to a 9% higher risk of heart disease.

And when they specifically looked at each type of disease, they found that consuming artificial sweeteners was linked to an 18% higher risk of cerebrovascular disease, conditions that affect blood flow to the brain.

A specific type of sweetener, aspartame, was associated with a 17% increased risk of cerebrovascular events, while acesulfame potassium and sucralose were associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

“In this large-scale prospective cohort of French adults, artificial sweeteners (particularly aspartame, acesulfame potassium and sucralose) were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and coronary disease,” the authors write.

“The results suggest that artificial sweeteners could represent a modifiable risk factor for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

“The results indicate that these food additives, consumed daily by millions of people and found in thousands of foods and beverages, should not be considered a safe and healthy alternative to sugar, in line with the current position of several health agencies.”

Commenting on the study, Tracy Parker, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “Observational studies such as these can only show an association and more research is needed to understand the links between artificial sweeteners and the risk of developing the heart. and circulatory diseases.

“Most adults in the UK eat too much sugar and this is linked to health problems such as obesity and tooth decay.

“Artificial sweeteners are an interesting way to reduce sugar intake and before they can be added to foods in Europe, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has to approve their use. This is a rigorous process, so you can feel confident that they are safe to eat.

“While these results shouldn’t cause undue concern, it’s always a good idea to look at the amount of sugar and sweeteners in your diet. Try to replace carbonated drinks with water and increase your intake of heart-healthy foods, such as lentils, nuts and seeds, as well as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. “

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