Artificial Sweetener Xylitol May Also Be Linked To Heart Attack and Stroke, Study Finds - Slashdot

CNN reports that the low-calorie sweetener xylitol used "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..." In 2023, the same researchers found similar results for another low-calorie sweetener called erythritol, which is used as a bulking sugar in stevia, monkfruit and keto reduced-sugar products. Additional lab and animal research presented in both papers revealed 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.

In the new study on xylitol, "differences in platelet behavior were seen even after a person consumed a modest quantity of xylitol in a drink typical of a portion consumed in real life," said Dr. Matthew Tomey, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Fuster Heart Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the study... "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."

Tomey added that the experiments "are interesting but alone do not prove that platelet abnormalities are to account for a linkage between xylitol and clinical events." But CNN notes that the researchers began by analyzing over 3,200 blood samples — and then also gave volunteers a typical xylitol-sweetened drink to see how much in increased their glucose levels. "They went up 1,000-fold," senior study author Dr. Stanley Hazen told CNN.

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