Is Erythritol Linked to Heart Attacks and Strokes?
The quick answer is NO, for a number of reasons and I will explain why.
This single study on erythritol and heart attacks has been in the news and found its way into social media. The primary claim of this study is that there is a correlation between erythritol in your blood to higher incidents of heart attacks and strokes. So, what they are implying is that when they look at the blood in these patients, they are seeing high levels of erythritol and therefore erythritol causes/contributes to Heart Attacks and Strokes. In law this would be called a Strawman Argument, an argument that on the outset looks strong, but when closely examined turns out to be flimsy, if not completely false, and I’d like to point out 3 reasons why that applies here:
- Correlation Does Not Mean Causation (Link)
So, what is a correlation? In simple terms a correlation is something that is always present when another thing is present, or happening. My favorite is the dry cleaner/economy correlation. Every time the economic market is just about to make a deep dip, dry cleaning businesses begin to yield greater returns. This is also true for hairdressers, who find jumps in revenue just before an economic downturn. Now, anyone knows that the dry cleaners and hairdressers are not causing the economic problems just to make more money. Actually, they are an early product of the situation. Keep this in mind.
Economic downturns do not happen overnight. People are first affected locally before the numbers begin to dip nationally. They lose their jobs, or need to get a part-time job because their position has been cut back, or job sharing has been implemented. So, they need to get ready for interviews and they do that by smartening up their suits and getting a fresh haircut. The US Dept of Labor tracks the income of dry cleaning businesses because they know there is a correlation.
- Apples and Oranges
The body makes endogenous erythritol when you metabolize sugar, have oxidative stress, belly fat, consume alcohol or are in a poor state of health, which is stressful on the whole body. It is a natural by-product of these conditions/situations. Because you make endogenous erythritol it needs to be identified and separated out in a test, so that a correct measure of the consumed erythritol in the blood can be captured. Otherwise, you could have a measure of 100% endogenous erythritol and 0% consumed and have no way of telling the difference. This omission alone should dismiss a test as null and void.
Secondly, people who are in poor health with weight problems, high stress or alcohol addiction show high endogenous erythritol levels and the great majority of people in this study were in poor health, which suggests that the participants naturally had high endogenous erythritol levels to start with, skewing the numbers right from the start.1
- Many Contradictory Proper Tests2
Other research has directly and clearly linked erythritol to many different health benefits, especially benefits that counter the bad effects of sugar and stress, which directly contribute to Heart Attacks and Stroke. I have listed 6 in the reference section below. It seems to me that erythritol is something that’s trying to help you and not hurt you3, or at the very least is a Biomarker. A Biomarker is a biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. A Biomarker has no causal relationship at all, and would appear as a strong correlation, as we see in this test. Could high erythritol levels signify risk of Heart Attack and Stroke in the same way dry cleaners signify an economic spill or crash? Its possible.
My final take from this is, yes, under certain conditions we should see elevated erythritol levels, which are either Biomarkers or bring aid to health conditions that can lead to Heart Attacks and Strokes, but erythritol does no cause either and this test does not show that it does. In fact, it supports the argument that erythritol is helpful and that is why it is present.