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Common sweetener erythritol tied to higher risk of stroke and heart attack – Medical News Today



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A common sweetener may significantly increase cardiovascular risk, according to a new study. Image credit: PatriciaEnciso/Getty Images.
  • Researchers investigated the link between the common artificial sweetener erythritol and cardiovascular risk.
  • They found that erythritol is linked to increased cardiovascular risk.
  • Further studies are needed to confirm the results.

Individuals with metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and obesity are often advised to consume products that replace sugars with artificial sweeteners to improve blood sugar levels and facilitate weight loss.

However, there are no long-term clinical trials examining the safety of most sweeteners. Some studies suggest that certain sweeteners may be linked to weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.


Erythritol is a commonly used artificial sweetener. Although naturally present in small amounts in fruits and vegetables, it is often added to processed foods in 1,000 times higher quantities.

While some studies show that erythritol may have antioxidant effects in animal models of diabetes, others show that it may be linked to increased weight gain in college students, and to the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Further study of the effects of erythritol on cardiometabolic risk could inform healthful dietary practices.

Recently, researchers examined the link between erythritol consumption and cardiovascular risk.

They found that erythritol consumption increases cardiovascular risk, including the risk of a heart attack or stroke, thrombosis (blood clotting), and death related to a cardiovascular event.

The results appear in Nature.

Dr. John Alan Galat, a cardiac surgeon with Novant Health in Charlotte, NC, not involved in the study, commented about its findings to Medical News Today. According to him:

“This article [makes] a convincing argument that one of the more common sugar substitutes — erythritol — may very well increase the risk for heart attack and stroke. [The authors nevertheless] concede that much more investigation needs to be done. The important question is whether the benefits of reduced sugar and caloric intake outweigh the risk of consuming products with these sugar substitutes.”

The researchers first analyzed blood samples from 1,157 participants. They found multiple compounds linked to cardiovascular risk. However, erythritol had some of the strongest links to the risk of cardiovascular events.

Next, the researchers analyzed blood samples from 2,149 participants from the United States and from 833 European participants. Plasma levels of erythritol were higher among participants with cardiovascular disease.

They also found that participants in the U.S. and European cohorts with the highest 25 percentile erythritol blood levels were 2.5 and 4.5 times more likely to have a cardiovascular event than those in the lowest 25 percentile.

Each micromole increase in erythritol levels was linked to a 21% and 16% increase in cardiovascular event risk in U.S. and European cohorts, respectively.

Next, the researchers set out to see how erythritol impacted blood clotting. Through multiple tests, they found that increased erythritol levels indicated higher rates of clot formation and increased thrombosis potential.

Lastly, the researchers examined the effects of consuming a snack or drink containing 30 grams (g) of erythritol in eight participants. While erythritol levels were low at baseline, they remained 1,000-fold higher for hours after ingestion.

“It is important that further safety studies are conducted to examine the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners in general, and erythritol specifically, on risks for heart attack and stroke, particularly in people at higher risk for cardiovascular disease,” notes senior author Dr. Stanley Hazen, chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Sciences in Lerner Research Institute and co-section head of Preventive Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic.

To understand how erythritol might increase heart attack and stroke risk, MNT spoke with Dr. Rigved Tadwalkar, a board-certified cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, not involved in the study.

He noted that erythritol facilitates mechanisms needed for platelet aggregation and thrombosis, which are both key for developing heart attack or stroke.

“As cardiovascular disease is a process that is more complex than platelet aggregation alone, it is possible that erythritol causes other pathophysiologic changes on the molecular level to increase the risk for a cardiovascular event. Complicating matters, it appears that consuming erythritol-sweetened foods increases plasma erythritol levels for days, potentially prolonging cardiovascular effects.”

– Dr. Rigved Tadwalkar

Dr. John Hwa, professor of cardiology at Yale School of Medicine, not involved in the study, also told MNT that indirect mechanisms by which erythritol increases cardiovascular risk may include effects on the microbiome and nutrient absorption and metabolism.

“Although compelling, the studies are preliminary, and findings indicate an association between erythritol and heart attacks and strokes rather than a causal relationship,” noted Dr. Hwa.

“Longer term studies are needed, measuring both erythritol levels and markers of platelet activation in the same patients, particularly those that had heart attacks and strokes,” he added.

Dr. Tadwalkar further cautioned that although “[a]djustments were made in this study for traditional risk factors that are known to be implicated in cardiovascular disease, including age, smoking status, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels […] it is possible that unmeasured confounders may be present, such as diet, which could have affected the results.”

“Nutritional metabolism is complex and sometimes unpredictable,” Dr. Hwa pointed out. “Even though erythritol is a naturally occurring substance and made in some cells in the body, if taken in excess may lead to platelet dysfunction.”

“If proven with further studies, caution should be taken in cardiovascular risk patients who may already be prone to ‘extra-sticky’ platelets such as [people with diabetes]. Consultation with one’s own medical practitioner may then be necessary before considering erythritol,” he noted.

MNT also spoke with Dr. Yu-Ming Ni, a cardiologist of noninvasive cardiology at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA, not involved in the study.

Commenting on the findings, he noted that “[w]e cannot say for certain that erythritol is the cause for increased heart disease unless this finding can be replicated in larger studies.”

“Until then, it is unclear whether it is necessary to stop all consumption of artificial sweeteners,” said Dr. Ni.

“I often advise my patients to eat food as naturally as possible, as that reduces [the] risk of exposure to potentially harmful chemicals like artificial sweeteners, and to consider sugar substitutes if it serves as a means to help overweight people with weight loss, since overall weight loss has clearer evidence for health improvements.”

– Dr. Yu-Ming Ni

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Heads up – wood ticks are out and about in the Thompson-Okanagan – Vernon News –



Tick season is back in the Okanagan.

Colin Kennedy came across one of the blood-suckers while taking a walk with his dog.


Kennedy was on the Test of Humanity Trail in Summerland last week and came home with an unwanted passenger – a wood tick.

“I just thought it would be good to report it so people start checking their dogs for ticks now that the weather is getting better,” Kennedy says.

Kennedy also reported the tick to eTick.

Anyone who has lived in the B.C. Interior for any length of time has likely had an encounter with a tick or knows someone who has.

They can be found year round, but are most likely to bite from March to June.

Ticks will lie in wait on a branch or tall grass, waiting for an unsuspecting person or animal to brush by. They then latch onto their victim and bury their heads under the skin.

Staying out of the woods is no guarantee you won’t encounter ticks.

Rob Higgins, an entomologist with the department of biological sciences at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, says the most common area to find ticks is on grasslands, but they can be found in urban environments as well.

“You can definitely pick them up in town, even when you think you’re walking in urban areas, because you’re brushing up against grasses on the side of the sidewalks,” he said.

If a tick has bitten you, Higgins says the best way to remove it is to take a pair of forceps or tweezers, slide them under the tick and pull backwards firmly – but not abruptly.

It will often take about 30 seconds of firm pressure to pull the tick out.

The variety most often found in B.C. is the Rocky Mountain wood tick.

Western black legged ticks, a species which Higgins said exists in low numbers in B.C., can carry Lyme disease. Each year, there are around a dozen Lyme cases discovered in the province, but about half those originate from outside the region.

Ticks can also carry other diseases, such as tick paralysis. According to Higgins, this disease mostly affects animals and he said vets and ranchers see cases each year.

Overall, it’s important to be careful, but most ticks in B.C. aren’t harmful.

“People don’t like ticks, fortunately here we don’t need to worry about them a great deal,” he said.

“You definitely want to remove them, you want to keep your eyes on your pets for symptoms of paralysis, but otherwise, we can consider the vast majority of them to be harmless.”

Have you had a close encounter of the insect kind? Email us a picture and we may feature it as Castanet’s Bug of the Week.

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'Pandora's Box': Doctors Warn of Rising Plant Fungus Infections in People After 'First of Its Kind' Case – VICE



A man in India is the first human known to be infected by a fungus called Chondrostereum purpureum, a pathogen that is most well-known for causing a disease called silver leaf in plants, reports a new study. 


The patient, who was 61 at the time of the diagnosis, made a full recovery and has not experienced any recurrence of the infection after two years of follow-up observations. However, this “first of its kind” case study exemplifies the risks that fungal pathogens pose for humans, especially now that climate change and other human activities like rampant urbanization, have opened a “Pandora’s Box for newer fungal diseases” by contributing to their spread, according to the study. 

Fungal pathogens are having a pop culture moment because they are the source of a fictional disease depicted in apocalyptic game The Last of Us, which was recently adapted into the acclaimed HBO series of the same name. But these microbes are also a real-life scourge that infect about 150 million people every year, resulting in about 1.7 million deaths. 

Though millions of fungal species exist, only a very small fraction of them are able to infect animals, including humans, because our bodies present challenges to these invaders such as high temperatures and sophisticated immune systems. 

Soma Dutta and Ujjwayini Ray, doctors at Apollo Multispecialty Hospitals in Kolkata, India, have now added one more fungus to that small list of human invaders with their unprecedented report of a C. purpureum infection. The patient, a plant mycologist, had suffered from cough, fatigue, anorexia, and a throat abscess for months before his hospital visit, and was probably exposed to the fungus as a result of his profession. 

When conventional techniques failed to diagnose the disease, the pathogen was sent to a World Health Organization center based in India where it was finally identified using DNA sequencing. The case “highlights the potential of environmental plant fungi to cause disease in humans and stresses the importance of molecular techniques to identify the causative fungal species,” according to their recent study in the journal Medical Mycology Case Reports

“This is a first of its kind of a case wherein this plant fungus caused disease in a human,” Dutta and Ray said in the study. “This case report demonstrates the crossover of plant pathogens into humans when working in close contact with plant fungi. The cross-kingdom pathogenicity demands much work to be done in order to explore insights of the mechanisms involved, thus leading to possible recommendations to control and contain these infections.”

C. purpureum can infect a variety of different plants with silver leaf disease, an often fatal condition that is named after the color that the pathogen induces on the leaves on the hosts. It is the latest in a growing number of fungal pathogens that have infected humans, which are buoyed on in part by human activities, such as urbanization, travel, and commerce. 

Human-driven climate change is also accelerating the spread of infectious diseases, including fungal pathogens, by allowing microbes to adapt to higher temperatures (like those in mammal bodies), expand their range, and interact with new hosts in the aftermath of extreme weather events. And though fungal diseases have maintained a lower profile in epidemiology compared to other pathogens, they may be more dangerous than viruses or bacteria in some contexts.

“While viral and bacterial diseases receive most attention as the potential cause of plagues and pandemics, fungi can arguably pose equal or even greater threats,” according to a 2021 study in PLoS Pathogens. “There are no vaccines available yet for fungal pathogens, the arsenal of antifungal agents is extremely limited, and fungi can live saprotrophically, producing large quantities of infectious spores and do not require host-to-host contact to establish infection. Indeed, fungi seem to be uniquely capable of causing complete host extinction.”

In addition to avoiding the spread of new fungal pathogens that can directly infect humans, researchers also point to the damage these diseases can deal to crops and ecosystems that people depend on. For this reason, Dutta and Ray recommend more research into the nature of these infections and strategies to mitigate their spread.

“Cross-kingdom human pathogens, and their potential plant reservoirs, have important implications for the emergence of infectious diseases,” Dutta and Ray said. “Fungi are also responsible for various infections in plants that cause destruction of millions of plants and crops” and “produce toxins that contaminate food and cause acute toxicity.”

“Over the past several decades multiple new pathogenic fungi have emerged,” they concluded. “A notable emergence of the multidrug resistant fungus Candida auris has spread all over the world and has become a significant threat. The worsening of global warming and other civilization activities opens Pandora’s Box for newer fungal diseases.”

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Staff reassigned to children’s ICU in Winnipeg, some surgeries postponed: Shared Health – Global News



An influx of kids sick with respiratory illness at the children’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) in Winnipeg has forced a staff shakeup that may result in the postponement of some non-urgent surgeries, health officials say.

Shared Health says roughly 10 staff — including some from pediatric surgical and recovery units — are being temporarily reassigned to help at Health Sciences Centre Children’s ICU.

Read more:

Children’s ER seeing ‘unprecedented’ patient levels in Winnipeg as feds secure more pain medications

Officials say a resurgence in respiratory illness circulating in the province is to blame for an uptick in kids ending up in the hospital’s ICU.

There were 17 kids receiving intensive care in the PICU as of Thursday morning. The PICU’s normal baseline capacity is nine.

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“A significant number of these patients were experiencing medically complex cases that were further complicated by respiratory illness, including infants and young children,” Shared Health said in an online statement.

There were 51 patients in the hospital’s neonatal ICU Thursday morning. The normal baseline capacity there is 50.

Meanwhile, Shared Health says the number of kids visiting the ER with influenza-like symptoms has increased from a low of 22 on March 18 to 47 on Wednesday.

Read more:

Children’s ER seeing ‘unprecedented’ patient levels in Winnipeg as feds secure more pain medications

Shared Health didn’t say how long it expects the latest staff reassignments will be in place.

While all urgent and life-threatening surgeries will continue to be performed, Shared Health said some non-urgent procedures will be postponed.

Families of affected patients will be contacted, officials said.

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&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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