The results of a new, large scale, long-term scientific study suggest that high consumption of artificial sweeteners may have a direct association with cardiovascular disease risk, including heart attack and stroke.
Researchers analyzed sweetener intake data on more than 100,000 adults from France. In particular, scientists 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.
Researchers tracked sweetener intake of study participants using diet records. Participants noted everything they ate, including which brand was used, for 24 hours, with the diet diary repeated three times at six month intervals – twice on week days and once on a weekend day. Thirty-seven percent of participants consumed artificial sweeteners with an average intake of 42.46 mg/day of artificial sweeteners. The average age of study participants was 42 and 80% of participants were female.
During the follow-up period of nine years, 1,502 cardiovascular events were recorded by participants. This included heart attacks, stokes, transient ischemic attacks (also known as 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% higher risk of heart disease.
When researchers examined each type of illness they found artificial sweetener consumption was linked to an 18% higher risk of cerebrovascular disease, a condition which affects the blood flow to the brain.
Aspartame – was associated with a 17% increased risk of cerebrovascular events, while acesulfame potassium and sucralose were associated with increased coronary heart disease risk.
The study researchers concluded that the findings from this large scale prospective cohort study suggest a potential direct association between higher artificial sweetener consumption (especially aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose) and increased cardiovascular disease risk.
Journal reference: Debras, C., et al. Artificial sweeteners and risk of cardiovascular diseases: results from the prospective NutriNet-Santé cohort, British Medical Journal (BMJ), September, 2022, 378:e071204. DOI: 10.1136/bmj-2022-071204