High sugar intake is known to raise the risk of diabetes and a variety of other health problems, including kidney failure. People started searching for less sweet substitutes or turning to artificial sweeteners like stevia and erythritol as alternatives to sugar. But now a recent study has revealed that the artificial sweetener erythritol has been linked to increased risk of blood clotting, stroke, heart attack and even death.
The Nature Medical Journal study goes into great detail on how individuals who already had heart disease risk factors, such as diabetes, were twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke if they had the highest amounts of erythritol in their blood. Erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar that the human body produces in little amounts. It is poorly metabolised by the body after consumption and thus any additional ingestion might cause a build-up within the body.
The Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute’s head of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention, lead author Dr Stanley Hazen, told CNN that “the degree of risk was not trivial." Table sugar is frequently replaced with artificial sweeteners, and erythritol in particular, which is made by fermenting maize, is around 70 per cent as sweet as sugar.
Lead author Dr Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, told the news outlet, “The degree of risk was not modest."
“If your blood level of erythritol was in the top 25 per cent compared to the bottom 25 per cent, there was about a two-fold higher risk for heart attack and stroke,” Dr Hazen added.
For the study, researchers looked into more than 4,000 individuals in the US and Europe. They examined erythritol’s role in blood coagulation which revealed that erythritol increased the development of clots and made platelets easier to activate, according to results of pre-clinical investigations.
According to Dr Hazen, the study shows that subjects who drank an artificially sweetened beverage containing the sugar substitute erythritol used in many processed foods saw dramatically increased levels of the substance in their blood for days on end. These levels were far higher than those that are known to increase clotting risks.
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