Health effects of sugar substitutes

Dr. Bradley Serwer, a cardiologist and chief medical officer at VitalSolution, which provides cardiovascular and anesthesiology services to hospitals nationwide, told Medical News Today that problems with sugar substitutes go back more than a century.

“Saccharin was first discovered in 1879 and widely introduced as an artificial sweetener in the early 20th century,” Serwer said. “There was notable concern that saccharin could cause cancer in the 1970s, but this was later clarified in the early 2000s when the National Toxicology Program removed saccharin from its list of potential carcinogens.

Serwer said the health value of sugar substitutes depends on someone’s medical conditions.

“Ideally, one would avoid them altogether and maintain a healthy balanced diet with a low glycemic index,” said Serwer, who was not involved in the research. “I would encourage patients to consider their desire for sweets over their overall health. The natural options such as monk fruit extract may be reasonable.”

“Take caution. Even products such as Stevia, which is derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, is mixed with erythritol, which may also increase the risk of platelet clumping and was associated with higher cardiovascular events,” he added.