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Artificial Sweetener Xylitol Linked to Heart Attack, Stroke
  • Posted June 6, 2024

Artificial Sweetener Xylitol Linked to Heart Attack, Stroke

Higher amounts of the artificial sweetener xylitol might raise the risk of heart attack and stroke, a new study warns.

Xylitol is a zero-calorie sugar alcohol commonly used in sugar-free candy, chewing gum, baked goods and toothpastes, researchers said.

But high blood levels of the sweetener is associated with an increased risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke or other heart event within three years, according to analysis of more than 3,000 patients in the United States and Europe, researchers reported June 6 in the European Heart Journal.

In the lab, the investigators discovered that xylitol causes platelets to clot, increasing the risk of blood clots.

“This study again shows the immediate need for investigating sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, especially as they continue to be recommended in combatting conditions like obesity or diabetes,” said lead researcher Dr. Stanley Hazen, chair of cardiovascular and metabolic sciences at the Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute.

“It does not mean throw out your toothpaste if it has xylitol in it, but we should be aware that consumption of a product containing high levels could increase the risk of blood clot-related events,” Hazen added in a Cleveland Clinic news release.

A third of patients with the highest levels of xylitol in their bloodstream were more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, researchers found.

Further, every measure of a person's clotting ability increased immediately after a test subject downed a xylitol-sweetened drink, but not after they sipped a sugar-sweetened product.

Researchers recommend that people talk with a doctor or a certified dietitian about their food choices, including their use of artificial sweeteners.

More information

Harvard Medical School has more about sugar alcohols.

SOURCE: Cleveland Clinic, news release, June 6, 2024 

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