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These 3 zero-calorie sweeteners raise risk of heart disease

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A recent study conducted by The BMJ shows that the individuals who were higher consumers of artificial sweeteners had an increased risk of heart problems, including stroke in comparison with the non-consumers. 

The researchers noted that three artificial sweeteners particularly were related to higher risks.

As per them, Aspartame intake was related to increased risk of cerebrovascular events, and acesulfame potassium and sucralose were related to increased coronary heart disease risk. Aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose contributed to 58, 29, and 10 percent of total artificial sweetener intakes, respectively.

“Aspartame intake was related to increased risk of cerebrovascular events (186 and 151 per 100,000 person years in higher and non-consumers, respectively), while acesulfame potassium and sucralose were related to increased coronary heart disease risk (acesulfame potassium: 167 and 164 per 100,000 person years; sucralose: 271 and 161 per 100,000 person years in higher and non-consumers, respectively), the study showed. 

“Our results indicate that these food additives, consumed day by day by thousands and thousands of individuals and present in hundreds of foods and beverages, shouldn’t be considered a healthy and protected alternative to sugar, consistent with the present position of several health agencies,” the authors wrote.

“Occasional artificial sweetener consumption isn’t more likely to have a robust impact on CVD risk, and so even when some consumption might need been missed, it will probably have had a low impact on the study results,” they said.

As per Market Data Forest, artificial sweeteners currently represent a $7200m (£5900m; €7000m) market globally, with a 5 percent annual growth projected to achieve $9700m by 2028.

A team of researchers on the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and colleagues, drew on data for over 100,000 participants. The common age of the participants was 42 years with 79.8 percent were female.

The study was based on the potential NutriNet-Santé e-cohort, launched in France in May 2009 to analyze relations between nutrition and health. Dietary intakes and consumption of artificial sweeteners were assessed by repeated 24-hour dietary records and a spread of probably influential health, lifestyle, and sociodemographic aspects were taken under consideration.

Artificial sweeteners from all dietary sources like beverages, table top sweeteners, dairy products, etc and by type (aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose) were included within the evaluation. 

A complete of 37 percent of participants consumed artificial sweeteners, with a mean intake of 42.46 mg/day, which corresponds to roughly one individual packet of table top sweetener or 100 mL of eating regimen soda. 

Compared with non-consumers, higher consumers tended to be younger, have a better body mass index, were more more likely to smoke, be less physically energetic, and to follow a weight reduction eating regimen. Additionally they had lower total energy intake, and lower alcohol, saturated and polyunsaturated fats, fibre, carbohydrate, fruit and vegetable intakes, and better intakes of sodium, red and processed meat, dairy products, and beverages with no added sugar. Nonetheless, the researchers took account of those differences of their analyses.

During a mean follow-up period of nine years, 1,502 cardiovascular events occurred which included heart attack, angina, angioplasty, transient ischemic attack and stroke.

It was found that total artificial sweetener intake was related to an increased risk of heart problems (absolute rate 346 per 100,000 person years in higher consumers and 314 per 100,000 person years in non-consumers).

Artificial sweeteners were more particularly related to cerebrovascular disease risk (absolute rates 195 and 150 per 100,000 person years in higher and non-consumers, respectively).

The research further stated that because it is an observational study, so cannot establish cause, nor can the researchers rule out the likelihood that other unknown (confounding) aspects might need affected their results. 

Further prospective cohort studies need to substantiate these results and experimental studies are needed to make clear biological pathways, they add. Within the meantime, they suggest this study provides key insights into the context of artificial sweetener re-evaluation currently being carried out by the European Food Safety Authority, the World Health Organization, and other health agencies.

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