Study Finds Artificial Sweeteners Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Disease | UK News
Artificial sweeteners “should not be viewed as a safe alternative to sugar” after scientists found their consumption was linked to a 9% higher risk of heart disease.
Researchers at the Sorbonne Paris Nord University in France also found that consumption of artificial sweeteners was linked to an almost 20% higher risk of diseases that affect blood flow to the brain.
The study looked at sweetener intakes from all dietary sources, including beverages, tabletop sweeteners and dairy products, and then compared them to their risk of heart or circulatory disease.
The researchers used more than 100,000 adults from France for the study, which was published in the British Medical Journal.
The participants had an average age of 42 years and four out of five were female.
The researchers tracked their sweetener intake using dietary records.
Participants recorded everything they ate, including the brand used, for 24 hours, repeating the food diary three times at six-month intervals — twice on weekdays and once on a weekend day.
About 37% of the participants consumed artificial sweeteners.
During a mean follow-up of nine years, 1,502 cardiovascular events were recorded by the participants.
These have included heart attacks, strokes, transient ischemic attacks (also known as mini-strokes), and angina – chest pain associated with poor blood flow to the heart muscles.
Researchers found that consuming artificial sweeteners was associated with a 9% higher risk of heart disease.
And when they looked more closely at each type of illness, they found that consuming artificial sweeteners was associated with an 18% higher risk of cerebrovascular disease — conditions that affect blood flow to the brain.
One type of sweetener – aspartame – was linked to a 17% increased risk of cerebrovascular events, while acesulfame potassium and sucralose were linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
“In this large, prospective cohort of French adults, artificial sweeteners (specifically aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose) were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and coronary artery disease,” the authors wrote.
“The results suggest that artificial sweeteners may represent a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease prevention.
“The results show that these food additives, which are consumed by millions of people every day and are found in thousands of foods and beverages, should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar, in line with the current position of several health authorities.”
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Tracy Parker, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), commented on the study: “Observational studies like this can only show one association and more research is needed to understand the links between artificial sweeteners and the risk of heart disease 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 attractive way to reduce sugar intake and before they can be added to foods in Europe, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) must approve their use. This is a rigorous process so you can rest assured that you are eating safe.”