Could using artificial sweeteners lead to fatal strokes and heart attacks? A new study suggests so.
The study, titled The Artificial Sweetener Erythritol and Cardiovascular Event Risk, published in Nature Medicine on Monday, 27 February, says that erythritol, a sugar substitute used in artificial sweeteners, could be linked to “risk for major adverse cardiovascular events.”
Here’s all you need to know about what the study says.
The Science Behind It: Polyol sweeteners like erythritol can easily activate platelets and, as a result, form clots quickly. This increases risks such as heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases.
“Erythritol ingestion in healthy volunteers induced marked and sustained increases in plasma erythritol levels well above thresholds associated with heightened platelet reactivity and thrombosis potential in in vitro and in vivo studies.”
Why You Should Care: Though erythritol is found naturally in fruits and thus contains fewer calories, to be used as a sugar alternative, it is produced in large quantities artificially.
And since it's not present in the human body naturally, it’s also not easy for the body to metabolise erythritol. So if you consume it on a daily basis, it might accumulate in your body.
Common Sweeteners That Use Erythritol: According to WebMD, these artificial sweeteners use erythritol:
What Experts Say: Dr Stanley Hazen, the lead author of the study and the director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, told CNN,
“The degree of risk was not modest. Our study shows when participants consumed an artificially sweetened beverage with an amount of erythritol in processed foods, markedly elevated levels in the blood are observed for days - levels well above those observed to enhance clotting risks.”
What Next? The study stated:
“Our findings reveal that erythritol is both associated with incident MACE risk and fosters enhanced thrombosis.”
But it added that research on the “long-term safety of erythritol” is still needed.