The Daily Telegraph
Sweeteners not safe sugar alternatives, say scientists
ARTIFICIAL sweeteners may contribute to a higher risk of heart disease, a study has found.
Researchers said that food additives “should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar”.
The study, published in The BMJ, examined information on more than 100,000 adults in France.
The authors, led by experts from the Sorbonne Paris Nord University, examined participants’ intake of sweeteners from all dietary sources including drinks, table top sweeteners, and dairy products, and compared it to their risk of heart or circulatory diseases.
Participants had an average age of 42 and four out of five were female.
Participants noted what they ate, including which brand, for 24 hours, with the diet diary repeated three times at six-month intervals – twice on week days and once on a weekend day.
Some 37 per cent of participants consumed artificial sweeteners.
During an average follow-up period of nine years, 1,502 cardiovascular events were recorded by participants.
This included heart attacks, strokes, transient ischemic attacks (mini strokes) and angina – chest pain linked to poor blood flow to heart muscles. Researchers found that artificial sweetener consumption was linked to a 9 per cent higher risk of heart disease.
Artificial sweetener consumption was linked to an 18 per cent higher risk of cerebrovascular disease – conditions which affect the blood flow to the brain.
A common sweetener – aspartame – was associated with a 17 per cent increased risk of cerebrovascular events, while acesulfame potassium and sucralose were associated with increased coronary heart disease risk.
“In this cohort, artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame, acesulfame potassium and sucralose) were associated with increased risk of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and coronary heart diseases,” the authors wrote.
“The results suggest that artificial sweeteners might represent a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease prevention. These food additives, consumed daily by millions of people and present 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 agencies.”
Tracy Parker, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Look at the sugar and sweeteners in your diet. Swap fizzy drinks for water and increase your intake of heart healthy foods, like lentils, nuts and seeds, as well as fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.”