Research shows that sweetener consumption increases risk of cardiovascular disease

Research shows that sweetener consumption increases risk of cardiovascular disease

Do you accept sweetener? French researchers have discovered new elements that help answer this question.

In a study published this Wednesday (7) in The British Medical Journal, a world reference in health research, they indicate an association between consumption of sweeteners and a greater risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke.

“Our findings indicate that these food additives, consumed daily by millions of people and present in thousands of foods and beverages, should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar, in line with the current position of various health agencies,” they state. scientists in the text.

In March of this year, the same group, with members from institutions such as the Sorbonne Paris North University and the University of Paris, had already indicated a relationship between sweeteners and increased risk of cancer.

Shortly afterwards, on April 12, the WHO (World Health Organization) released a systematic review on the use of sweeteners in the diet of children and adults and, in July, launched a public consultation to define guidelines on the consumption of the substances. . The entity’s current guide on sugar intake, related to public health issues such as obesity, dates from 2015.

To analyze the effects of sweeteners on the cardiovascular system, the group used information from 103,388 volunteers from an initiative launched in France in May 2009 to investigate the relationship between nutrition and health on a large scale.

Participants answered several questionnaires over the years and periodically provided detailed information about their diet. Initially, they indicated all foods and beverages consumed on two weekdays and one weekend day, specifying amounts. This task was repeated every six months and the researchers considered the first two years of food records to establish the subjects’ standard diet.

The second step was to calculate the amount of sweetener in the foods and beverages consumed and to detect the types of additives most used. Aspartame (57.9%), acesulfame potassium (29.2%) and sucralose (10.1%) were the most present varieties, while sweetened beverages (52.5%), tabletop sweeteners (30.2%) and artificially sweetened products (8.2%), such as yogurts and cottage cheese, were the main sources cited.

From the diet, the scientists identified that 37.1% of the participants consumed artificial sweeteners and that the average consumption of these substances in this group was 42.46 mg per day, the equivalent of a sachet of sweetener or 100 mL of soda. diet.

Then the scientists looked at the occurrence of cardiovascular events among the participants over the next nine years and analyzed whether there was a higher incidence among sweetener consumers. In all, 1,502 events were recorded, 730 of which were related to coronary problems, such as myocardial infarction and angioplasty, and 777 to cerebrovascular episodes (stroke and transient ischemic attack).

They found a 1.09-fold higher relative risk of cardiovascular disease in general and a 1.18-fold higher relative risk for cerebrovascular disease among sweetener consumers. Aspartame was associated with an increased risk of cerebrovascular events (1,17), whereas acesulfame potassium and sucralose increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 1.40-fold and 1.31-fold, respectively.

For the group of scientists, the findings reinforce the results of previous research and expand the understanding of the effects of sweeteners considering the complete diet, not just drinks, but more studies are still needed to establish the causal relationship and ensure that the results were not affected by other variables, such as lifestyle.

The researchers also point out that, for the most part, the participants in the initiative are French women with a high educational and social level, which possibly contributes to healthier eating habits. Thus, the consumption of sweeteners by adults in general may be higher than that found among the group of volunteers and, consequently, the risk may be underestimated.

“About that [outras pesquisas não são realizadas]this study provides key insights in the context of EFSA’s artificial sweetener reassessment [Autoridade Europeia para a Segurança dos Alimentos]WHO and other health agencies around the world,” the authors conclude.

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