Could artificial sweeteners lead to diabetes? Study finds possible link –

here’s an article i came across from the Advisory board newsletter.


Could artificial sweeteners lead to diabetes? Study finds possible link
Study: Sweeteners can change microbiome and affect glucose metabolism
September 18, 2014
Consuming artificial sweeteners—often found in things like diet soda and sugar-free yogurt—may increase susceptibility to metabolic diseases like diabetes and glucose intolerance, according to a new study in Nature.
Specifically, the study found that consuming artificial sweeteners affects the bacteria in a person’s digestive system, which in turn affects how a person metabolizes glucose in a way that causes glucose levels to spike after eating and lowering more slowly than normal.
The findings are expected to add to the existing debate about the use of artificial sweeteners to prevent weight gain in an increasingly obese nation.
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In 2012, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association said the sweeteners could be “used judiciously” to “facilitate reductions in added in sugar.” But to date, research on the effects of fake sugar consumption has been mixed, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The latest study is considered an advance in the research because it brings together research on human microbiomes and blood sugar levels, according to the Journal.
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Details of the study: Fake sugar affects gut bacteria
For the study, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel conducted a series of experiments on mice and on humans. They tested the effects of three artificial sweeteners:
Aspartame (found in Equal);
Saccharin (found in Sweet’N Low); and
Sucralose (found in Splenda).
In one set of tests, the researchers supplemented the drinking water of mice with either glucose or an artificial sweeteners.
After just one week, the mice consuming any of the three artificial sweeteners developed significant glucose intolerance compared with mice that drank just water or water with glucose. Glucose intolerance—which is when the body is less able to handle large amounts of sugar—can lead to Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or other more serious illness.
Soda drinkers are 22% more likely to develop diabetes
When the researchers gave the mice antibiotics that killed bacteria in their digestive tract, the intolerance went away. Based on their findings, the researchers hypothesized that the three types of sweeteners affected the digestive bacteria of the mice, causing the intolerance.
More on gut bacteria
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To test the theory, they took intestinal bacteria from mice that had consumed water with saccharin and inject it into the systems of mice that had never been exposed to the sweetener. The mice went on to develop the same glucose intolerance. Also, DNA tests show that saccharin affected the bacteria variety in mice that consumed it.
Then, the researchers examined the effects of false sugar on human gut bacteria. They surveyed 381 non-diabetic individuals participating in a study about the long-term effects of nutrition and bacteria. The researchers identified a correlation between artificial sweetener use and signs of glucose intolerance.
In another experiment, seven people who normally did not consume fake sugar were asked to use products high in saccharin. After four days, researchers found that four of the volunteers had significantly raised blood sugar levels and altered populations of bacteria in their guts.
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Overall, “we found that artificial sweeteners may drive, or contribute to… an exaggerated elevation in blood glucose levels—the very same condition that we often aim to prevent by consuming them,” says study author Eran Elinav.
Study collaborator Eran Segal highlights differences in the gut bacteria of participants who experienced raised blood sugar and those who did not. This suggests that the effects of fake sugar may not be universal and that probiotics could be used to reverse glucose intolerance, Segal says.
In addition, Judy Wylie-Rosett, a nutrition expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says the finding may offers hints about “why people who consume [artificial] sweeteners don’t always lose weight.”
Do artificial sweeteners cause weight gain?
A note of caution from experts
However, nutrition experts who were not involved in the study say the results should be viewed with caution because the study was primarily conducted in mice and the results were very preliminary.
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Frank Hu, a Harvard School of Public Health professor of nutrition and immunology, says the findings are interesting but not conclusive. He notes that “the validity of the human study is questionable” given the small sample size.
The Calorie Control Council, a trade group for fake sugar makers, says the study had several limitations and that more research was needed.
At the least, Elinav argues that “[t]he scope of our discovery is cause for a public reassessment of the massive and unsupervised use of artificial sweeteners.” He and his co-authors are recruiting volunteers for a larger study on the link between certain foods, gut bacteria, and physical changes like glucose intolerance.
Overall, Nita Forouhi—the program leader at the Medical Research Council’s epidemiology unit at Cambridge University—says, “This research raises caution that [artificial sweeteners] may not represent the ‘innocent magic bullet’ they were intended to be to help with the obesity and diabetes epidemics, but it does not yet provide sufficient evidence to alter public health and clinical practice” (Chang, “Well,” New York Times, 9/17; Naik, Wall Street Journal, 9/17; Kelland, Reuters, 9/17).
Talking to patients about nutrition and weight
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Cynicism linked to greater dementia risk, study says

(CNN) — Your spouse “had to stay late at work” — are you skeptical? Do you think your friend doesn’t like you if he cancels dinner plans? Do you suspect that your co-worker is putting her ambitions ahead of the team?

Curmudgeons of the world, listen up: This line of negative thinking might actually hurt your health.
A new study in the latest edition of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found that cynical people have a higher likelihood of developing dementia.

“There have been previous studies that showed that people who were cynical were more likely to die earlier and have other poor health outcomes, but no one that we could tell ever looked at dementia,” said Anna-Maija Tolppanen, one of the study’s authors and a professor at the University of Eastern Finland. “We have seen some studies that show people who are more open and optimistic have a lower risk for dementia so we thought this was a good question to ask.”

Studying cynicism
Cynicism is a deep mistrust of others. Psychologists consider it a kind of chronic anger that develops over time.

Specifically, the kind of cynicism researchers looked at involved doubting the truth of what people say and believing most people are motivated by self-interest rather than by what is best for the community.
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The study tested 1,449 people with an average age of 71. The study participants took a test for dementia. A separate test measured their level of cynicism. Both tests are considered reliable by researchers.
The cynicism test asks if the person agrees with statements like “Most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it”; “I think most people would lie to get ahead”; and “It is safer to trust nobody.”

Those who agreed with the critical statements in the test were considered highly cynical. The people with the highest level of cynical distrust had a 2.54 times greater risk of dementia than those with the lowest cynicism rating.

Researchers also examined the test results to see if the subjects who were labeled highly cynical died sooner than the others. But once compounding factors were screened out, they did not. Previous studies have shown a link between cynicism and an earlier death.

Still, the new study does not prove that having a bad attitude causes bad health outcomes. To prove a causal relationship, a study would need randomized controlled trials to show that a reduction in cynical attitudes through treatment actually lowered the risk of bad health outcomes.

More research is necessary to replicate the conclusions. But the results complement a wide body of research showing how “over time, people with highly cynical hostility do worse health wise,” said Dr. Hilary Tindle, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

Why cynicism may be bad for you
What might explain an association between cynicism and poor health?
This is a complex issue that needs to be studied more, Tindle said. The relationships between psychological attitudes and health outcomes are very complex.

“I can tell you from my clinical perspective from treating patients, I am absolutely certain that psychological attitudes can lead people down a road to poor health, because I see it every day when I talk to patients,” said Tindle, who wrote the book “Up: How Positive Outlook Can Transform Our Health and Aging.”

Tindle was the lead author on a study that examined the health outcomes of over 97,000 women and found that cynical women had a higher hazard of cancer-related mortality.

“The bottom line is that a high degree of anger/hostility/cynicism is not good for health,” she wrote.
Research shows cynical people also tend to smoke more, exercise less and weigh more. They also have a harder time following even the best medical advice, because their cynical natures won’t let them believe what people tell them, Tindle said.

Past studies have also found that people who are cynical have a higher rate of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular problems and cancer-related deaths. Cardiovascular disease can contribute to dementia because it essentially damages small blood vessels everywhere in your body, including in your brain.
Cynical people also tend to have greater stress responses, which means they typically have a higher heart rate, a higher blood pressure peak, and a tendency to have greater inflammation of their immune systems. Chronic inflammation is now known to be harmful to one’s overall health and it is linked to everything from Crohn’s disease to high cholesterol to even Alzheimer’s.

Do what makes you happy
Can you come out of cynicism?
The good news is, being highly cynical is not a permanent state of mind.

“I am also certain that people can learn to change — they change every day in that they quit smoking, they lose weight, they cut ties in unhealthy friendships,” Tindle said. “The ultimate message is people are not ‘doomed’ if they have cynical tendencies.”

So if your assumptions about people are making you angry and irritable, try having a little more trust.
“All of us are capable of adopting healthier attitudes,” Tindle said. “As a physician, I see people of all ages making positive change every day.”