Artificial sweetener linked to 'higher rates of heart attack and blood clots'
A common artificial sweetener has been linked to higher rates of heart attack and stroke.
Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic have studied over 4,000 people across the U.S. and Europe to learn more about the effects of erythritol, a popular artificial sweetener.
Accordingly, they have reported that participants with higher blood erythritol levels were at elevated risk of experiencing a major adverse event such as heart attack, stroke or death.
In addition, they examined the effects of adding erythritol - produced through fermenting corn - to either whole blood or isolated platelets and discovered that it made platelets easier to activate and form a clot.
"Sweeteners like erythritol have rapidly increased in popularity in recent years but there needs to be more in-depth research into their long-term effects," said senior author Dr Stanley Hazen. "Cardiovascular disease builds over time, and heart disease is the leading cause of death globally. We need to make sure the foods we eat aren't hidden contributors."
In light of the findings, Dr Hazen and his team are hoping to conduct further studies into the topic.
"Our study shows that when participants consumed an artificially sweetened beverage with an amount of erythritol found in many processed foods, markedly elevated levels in the blood are observed for days - levels well above those observed to enhance clotting risks," he added. "It is important that further safety studies are conducted to examine the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners in general, and erythritol specifically, on risks for heart attack and stroke, particularly in people at higher risk for cardiovascular disease."
Full study results have been published in the journal Nature Medicine.