Popular Sweetener Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke, Despite Being Considered Healthy

Popular Sweetener Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke, Despite Being Considered Healthy

A surprising discovery has emerged regarding a commonly used sweetener, xylitol, which may pose serious cardiovascular risks, including heart attacks and strokes. Xylitol, also known as E 967, is widely used in sugar-free products such as candies, gum, and toothpaste. It has been considered a healthy alternative to sugar, but new research suggests otherwise.

Awareness about the risks of sugar consumption has been increasing for a long time, leading more people to reduce or eliminate sugar from their diets to protect their health. However, there are healthier alternatives available, though their overall health benefits are still debated.

What Does The Study About Xylitol Say?

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic conducted a study involving over 3,000 participants from the US and Europe. They found that individuals with high levels of xylitol in their blood had an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Specifically, those with the highest xylitol levels were one-third more likely to experience blood clot-related events. This discovery highlights the urgent need to re-evaluate the safety of sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners.

Dr. Stanley Hazen, head of the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Sciences Division at the Cleveland Clinic, emphasized the importance of further studying these substances. While he does not suggest discarding xylitol-containing toothpaste, he warns against consuming large amounts of products high in xylitol due to the potential risk of blood clots. Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, Medical Director at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center, advises caution until the effects of xylitol are better understood. He notes that xylitol may increase the "stickiness" of platelets, which can elevate the risk of blood clots in the heart or brain.

Dr. Rigved Tadwalkar, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center, acknowledges that the study was observational and does not definitively prove causation. However, he agrees that the findings are concerning and warrant additional research.

The potential problems with artificial sweeteners are not new. For instance, saccharin was once believed to cause cancer in the 1970s, though this was later disproven. Despite such controversies, experts recommend minimizing the use of artificial sweeteners. A balanced diet with a low glycemic index or natural sweeteners like monk fruit extract is preferable.

More research is necessary to fully understand the biological processes behind these risks. This new study opens an important chapter in the ongoing investigation into the safety of sugar substitutes and their impact on heart health.