Sweeteners linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease

Keep the taste of sugar, without the calories, overweight and also the associated health risks? Almost half a century after their arrival on the market, when they are now incorporated into hundreds of food products and are part of the habits of millions of people around the world, intense sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose , acesulfame-K…) do not seem to have kept their promises. In addition to numerous unfavorable data on cancer and metabolic disorders, the latest results from the NutriNet epidemiological cohort, published Thursday, September 8 in the British Medical Journalsuggest that their consumption is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

This work, the most precise available to date on the subject, shows that among the approximately 100,000 members of the cohort, the heaviest consumers of these sweeteners have, all other things being equal, an increased risk of approximately 10% of suffer cardiovascular disease, compared to those who do not, during the approximately nine years of follow-up.

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The strongest associations are those linking acesulfame-K and sucralose to coronary heart disease (increased risks of 40% and 31% respectively), and those between aspartame and cerebrovascular disease – stroke or transient ischemic attack – with an increased risk of 18%. At the level of the individual, these increases in risk remain modest, but given the intensity with which these products are consumed and the frequency of the diseases considered, the effects in terms of public health could be significant.

Striking and “consistent” results

To carry out their calculations, the researchers took advantage of the precision of the information obtained from the members of the cohort to correct their results for numerous confounding factors such as age, sex, physical activity, smoking, family history cardiovascular disease, as well as dietary intake of energy, salt, consumption of alcohol, saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, sugar, fruit and vegetables, red and processed meat. That is to say most of the known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“Our results are consistent with those of previous epidemiological studiessummarizes Mathilde Touvier, director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team (EREN), coordinator of this work. But we are the first to have managed to quantify the daily intake of sweeteners, and to associate these quantities with an increase in risk. » Until now, most observational studies have simply assessed the number of sweetened beverages consumed. “We find that, when including all food sources, beverages on average only account for about half of sweetener intake”says the researcher.

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