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Disruptive Results From Artificial Sweetener Research


2/26/24
 

Artificial sweeteners are commonly found in diet soft drinks, as tabletop packets, and in foods. It is a common misconception that they are a healthier alternative than natural sugar because they contain no calories.

A large observational study published in the British Medical Journal highlighted 9% and 18% higher risk of cardiovascular events including heart attack, and stroke in people that consumed artificial sweeteners(AS) daily. 42mg of AS daily were consumed on average. Over 100,000 participants were included in the study, and methodologies were performed to minimize the risk of results being skewed from other possible causes(1).

Aside from heart disease and stroke, weight gain, diabetes, dementia, cancer, and kidney disease have also been associated with AS consumption, in small to medium sized observational studies(2,3,4,5,6,7).

Artificial sweeteners include aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium.

Due to the current state of research, it is wise to avoid daily consumption of artificial sweeteners. Healthy alternatives include sparkling waters, or water with a lime or lemon added.

Observational studies do not prove cause and effect, instead they highlight associations.

By: Evan Redmond, Pharm.D.

Sources:

1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/sugar-substitutes-new-cardiovascular-concerns.

2. Tandel KR. Sugar substitutes: Health controversy over perceived benefits. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2011 Oct;2(4):236-43. doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.85936. PMID: 22025850; PMCID: PMC3198517..

3. Witkowski M, Nemet I, Alamri H, Wilcox J, Gupta N, Nimer N, Haghikia A, Li XS, Wu Y, Saha PP, Demuth I, König M, Steinhagen-Thiessen E, Cajka T, Fiehn O, Landmesser U, Tang WHW, Hazen SL. The artificial sweetener erythritol and cardiovascular event risk. Nat Med. 2023 Mar;29(3):710-718. doi: 10.1038/s41591-023-02223-9. Epub 2023 Feb 27. PMID: 36849732; PMCID: PMC10334259.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36849732/

4. Witkowski M, Nemet I, Alamri H, Wilcox J, Gupta N, Nimer N, Haghikia A, Li XS, Wu Y, Saha PP, Demuth I, König M, Steinhagen-Thiessen E, Cajka T, Fiehn O, Landmesser U, Tang WHW, Hazen SL. The artificial sweetener erythritol and cardiovascular event risk. Nat Med. 2023 Mar;29(3):710-718. doi: 10.1038/s41591-023-02223-9. Epub 2023 Feb 27.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36849732/

5. Gardener H, Elkind MSV. Artificial Sweeteners, Real Risks. Stroke. 2019 Mar;50(3):549-551. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.119.024456.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30760171/

6.Yang Q. Gain weight by "going diet?" Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010 Jun;83(2):101-8. PMID: 20589192; PMCID: PMC2892765.Pubmed Link

7. Fowler SP, Williams K, Resendez RG, Hunt KJ, Hazuda HP, Stern MP. Fueling the obesity epidemic? Artificially sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Aug;16(8):1894-900. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.284. Epub 2008 Jun 5. PMID: 18535548.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18535548/



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