- A new study looked into 103,000 participants’ intake of sweeteners and compared it with their risk of heart or circulatory diseases.
- Artificial sweetener consumption was linked to increased risks of cardiovascular disease by 9% and cerebrovascular disease by 18%.
- The study authors noted that artificial sweeteners “should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar.”
Added sugars have long been established to have harmful effects that lead to multiple chronic diseases, so several food companies have resorted to using artificial sweeteners instead. But new findings from a large-scale prospective cohort study suggest a link between higher consumption of artificial sweeteners and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study authors noted that artificial sweeteners “should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar.”
Previous studies have scrutinized the role of artificial sweeteners in various diseases, but have been limited and only used artificially sweetened drinks as a proxy. A new study offers another perspective.
Experts from the Sorbonne Paris Nord University led the study that involved 103,000 French adults, who had an average age of 42. Around four in five participants were women.
To track diet records, participants noted everything they ate, including the brand, for 24 hours. They tracked this in their diet diary — twice on weekdays and once on a weekend day — at six-month intervals.
The researchers looked into the participants’ intake of sweeteners from all dietary sources, including tabletop sweeteners, drinks, and dairy products. They then compared it with their risk of heart or circulatory diseases.
The results showed that about 37% of the participants consumed artificial sweeteners. Across an average follow-up period of about a decade, they recorded 1,502 cardiovascular events, such as angina, mini-strokes, strokes, and heart attacks.
The researchers noted, “The results suggest that artificial sweeteners might represent a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease prevention.”
They found that consuming artificial sweeteners was linked to the increased risks of cardiovascular disease by 9% and cerebrovascular disease by 18%. Aspartame, specifically, 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.
Since the study was observational, it cannot establish a direct cause, nor rule out the possibility of other unknown factors. Still, the researchers noted that such a large-scale study done with precise, high-quality dietary data showed results that were in line with other research that linked artificial sweeteners with markers of poor health. The researchers suggested the need for further studies.
Source: The Guardian