A recent research report published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The British Medical Journal reveals that artificial sweeteners are linked to an increased risk of both heart disease and stroke.
More than 103,000 French people, all over the age of 18, took part in the survey, published on September 7.
The findings show a link between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and serious diseases.
Participants who consumed large amounts of aspartame had a 17 percent higher risk of stroke than people who did not consume the aforementioned sweetener, writes The Guardian.
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Aspartame is an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free soft drinks, foods such as yogurt, chewing gum, cookies and desserts – as well as in dietary supplements.
According to Norsk Helseinformatikk, aspartame accounts for as much as 75 percent of sweetener sales.
However, people who consumed large amounts of sucralose, which like aspartame is found in food and drinks, had a nine percent higher risk of heart disease.
– Our results show that these sweeteners, which are consumed by millions of people every day and are found in thousands of foods and drinks, should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar, the researchers explain in the study.
The study is led by 20 experts from Sorbonne Paris Nord University in France.
Of the more than 103,000 French people, four out of five were women and the average age was 42.
1502 participants were diagnosed with the disease
According to The Guardian, the researchers tracked the consumption of sweeteners using a dietary record. Participants wrote down everything they consumed in food and drink over a 24-hour period. This was done three times a week every six months for several years.
Artificial sweeteners were consumed by 37 percent of the participants.
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During the ten-year follow-up period, 1,502 participants experienced cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke and angina (chest pain).
Taken together, the researchers conclude that the findings suggest a potential direct link between higher consumption of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
– Gives an overview
Although artificial sweeteners are found in thousands of foods and beverages around the world, the researchers write that it remains a controversial topic that is constantly being re-evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), among others.
The researchers point out that research aimed at prevention is observational and therefore experimental studies are necessary.
– In the meantime, this study provides insight into the context of the re-evaluation of artificial sweeteners by EFSA, WHO and other health organizations worldwide, say the study’s researchers.