April 19 – A new study has linked erythritol, a sugar alcohol found in popular sweeteners like Splenda Naturals Stevia and Truvia, to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious medical events.
Read on to learn more about the latest research linking erythritol to major health risks and what it means for heart attack and stroke victims—and their families—who may be considering their legal options.
Let’s start with the basics of the new research that, in early 2023, established a link between the sugar substitute erythritol and severe health risks.
The project was funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Dr. Stanley Hazen at the Cleveland Clinic. Hazen’s team published the findings of their research study in the journal Nature Medicine on February 27, 2023, under the title “The Artificial Sweetener Erythritol and Cardiovascular Event Risk.”
To begin, the NIH reported, Hazen and his team undertook an initial study into the compounds found in the blood of more than 1,000 people and tracked both fatal and nonfatal adverse cardiovascular events over a three-year period.
“When looking at the data, the very top-ranking compound…was erythritol,” TIME quoted Hazen as saying. Next, the researchers increased the size of the population they were studying. Expanding their study to include two additional groups of individuals—bringing the total number of human subjects studied to more than 4,000—allowed them to confirm these findings of an increased risk of heart attack and stroke associated with having high levels of erythritol in the blood.
How much erythritol a person has in their blood affects the extent of this increase in risk, the researchers concluded. As the NIH reported, the 25% of study participants with the highest levels of erythritol in the blood “were about twice as likely to have cardiovascular events” during the three years the study tracked than the 25% of participants with the lowest levels of erythritol in the blood.
The researchers learned that exposing the platelets that affect blood clotting to the sugar alcohol erythritol makes them more sensitive to blood clotting signals and makes blood clots form faster, the NIH reported.
Increasing the likelihood of blood clots forming in the body also increases the risks of heart attacks and strokes because these blood clots can block the arteries leading to the heart or the brain.
How much erythritol makes a significant impact on the level of this compound in your blood?
Just “a serving of erythritol in common ‘keto-friendly’ processed food products,” the Cleveland Clinic quoted Hazen as saying, “made blood levels of erythritol go up 1,000-fold, well above the levels linked to enhanced clotting risks.”
Further, the high level of erythritol in the blood stays high “for several days after consumption of just one serving of artificially sweetened food containing erythritol,” Hazen added.
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An increase in the risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes presents a serious danger even to individuals who otherwise have no cardiovascular risk factors. Perhaps even more concerning, though, is that erythritol is often recommended as an alternative to sugar for people living with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity—conditions which, themselves, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke as it is. As such, the risks associated with erythritol consumption may compound these dangers.
Just avoiding erythritol going forward is easier said than done. Even the most conscientious consumers will have trouble ensuring that they aren’t consuming erythritol now that they know the risks. Under current regulations, food companies aren’t required to list sugar alcohols like erythritol on their nutrition labels, the Cleveland Clinic reported.
Research into erythritol dangers is ongoing. In fact, the researchers behind the Cleveland Clinic study noted that their study proves that high blood levels of erythritol are “associated” with cardiac events but that further study is needed to establish causation.
Still, lead investigator Hazen stressed that the increase in risk his team had found wasn’t “modest.” Rather, he explained, “it was a very large effect that we were seeing reproduced across multiple groups and across geographies” and that it should make consumers “really cautious about eating processed foods containing erythritol.”
The findings generated by this research study may help make consumers more aware of the potential risks sugar alternatives like erythritol can pose—but for too many Americans, this news comes too late. A heart attack or stroke has already occurred, and the damage is already done.
If you or a loved one has suffered a blood clot, stroke, or heart attack and believe the sweetener erythritol may be to blame, don’t wait to take action. An attorney with experience handling claims involving dangerous products can help you understand your legal rights and options and launch an investigation to determine if you have the grounds for a successful erythritol lawsuit.
Although erythritol sweetens food with fewer calories, recent research has shown that consuming just one serving of the product increases blood erythritol levels for days. According to researchers, a high level of blood erythritol makes blood clots more likely to form in the body, leading to serious complications.
Blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes are among the injuries people are suing for in erythritol lawsuits.
Console & Associates handles product liability claims on a no-win, no-fee basis. The consultation is free and confidential. There’s no upfront cost if you decide to move forward with a claim. Give us a call at 866-778-5500 or complete our online form.