首页  | 双语新闻

研究:木糖醇等甜味剂或引发心脏病和中风 Common low-calorie sweetener linked to heart attack and stroke, study finds

中国日报网 2024-06-12 17:04






A low-calorie sweetener called xylitol used in many reduced-sugar foods and consumer products such as gum and toothpaste may be linked to nearly twice the risk of heart attacks, stroke and death in people who consume the highest levels of the sweetener, a new study found.


Lab and animal research revealed low-calorie sweeteners such as erythritol and xylitol may cause blood platelets to clot more readily. Clots can break off and travel to the heart, triggering a heart attack, or to the brain, triggering a stroke.


Some 61% of American adults will have cardiovascular disease by 2050, according to a recent prediction by the American Heart Association. Reducing clotting activity is a key treatment used by cardiologists, so any additional clotting in platelets is a bad sign, said Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver.


"When someone has a heart attack, we give them aspirin or drugs like clopidogrel, or Plavix, to counter platelet activity. These sugar alcohols appear to be enhancing platelet activity, which is concerning,” said Freeman, who was not associated with the new research.


"This is another warning we ought to switch to water, with a close second being unsweetened tea or coffee,” he said.


As sweet as sugar with less than half the calories, xylitol is often used in sugarless gum, breath mints, toothpaste, mouthwash, cough syrup and chewable vitamins. It is frequently added in larger quantities to candy, baked goods, cake mixes, barbecue sauces, ketchup, peanut butter, puddings, pancake syrup and more.


Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, a carbohydrate found naturally in foods such as cauliflower, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, plums, raspberries and strawberries. However, the amount of xylitol found in such natural sources is tiny, Hazen said.


"If you actually do the calculation, it literally takes a tonnage of fruit to be equivalent to one diabetic cookie that can have like nine grams of xylitol, which is a typical label amount,” he said.


For commercial use, however, xylitol is made from corncobs, birch trees or genetically engineered bacteria.


"It’s sold as a so-called natural sweetener, and because xylitol doesn’t spike blood sugar levels, it’s also marketed as low carb and keto friendly,” said senior study author Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute.


Many professional associations also recommend xylitol as a sugar substitute for patients with obesity, diabetes or prediabetes to improve glycemic control, he added.


"Yet people at risk for diabetes are among the most vulnerable for clotting events,” he said. “We’re targeting the wrong people.”


Exposure has increased over the last two decades, Hazen said, because the US Food and Drug Administration recognizes sugar alcohols as GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe.”


"Xylitol is cheaper to make than cane sugar and so more and more keeps getting incorporated as a sugar substitute into food,” he said.


Research has shown some artificial sweeteners may create a backlash in the metabolic system, triggering the body to expect more calories, thus making weight loss more difficult.


The study, published Thursday in the European Heart Journal, began as a way of finding unknown chemicals or compounds in a person’s blood that might predict the risk for a heart attack, stroke or death within the next three years.


To do so, Hazen and his team analyzed 1,157 blood samples from people who were undergoing assessment for heart disease that had been collected between 2004 and 2011. They also examined another batch of blood samples from more than 2,100 people who may also have had high risk for heart disease.


They found a number of alcohol sugars that appeared to have an impact on cardiovascular function, including xylitol and erythritol. Erythritol is the predominant ingredient by weight in many stevia and monkfruit products.


The February 2023 erythritol in study found the risk of heart attack and stroke nearly doubled within three years when people had the highest levels of erythritol in their blood.


For the new study on xylitol, the results were basically the same — people with the highest levels of xylitol compared to those with the lowest levels had nearly twice the risk of heart attack, stroke and death, Hazen said.


The World Health Organization warned consumers in 2023 to avoid artificial sweeteners for weight loss, and has called for additional research on the long-term toxicity of low- and no-calorie sweeteners, the study said.


"Through their work, the investigators have shined a light on the safety of sugar substitutes. There is more to learn,” Mount Sinai’s Tomey said. “In the meantime, it is worth remembering that sugar substitutes are no substitute for a sincere commitment to the several elements of a healthy diet and lifestyle.”





中国日报网 英语点津微信
中国日报网 双语小程序