Splenda Raises Cancer Worries, What About Other Sweeteners?
Before you reach for another product that boasts it has been sweetened with no-calorie Splenda (sucralose), you might take heed of a warning from a leading cancer scientist about how this artificial sweetener raises cancer risk in mice. But cancer worries and other health concerns are not limited to Splenda, as other sweeteners also may place you and your family at risk.
Artificial sweeteners are not so sweet
People have a love affair with sugar and sweet things, and to help keep that love affair alive—and low-calorie—scientists have developed several different no-calorie sweeteners over the years. While the number of artificial sweeteners and the foods they can be found in have risen dramatically, so has the percentage of people who are overweight or obese, so some might say the love affair has gone bad.
It seems that artificial sweeteners are not so sweet, and Splenda is just one example. According to Dr. Morando Soffritti, director of the Ramazzini Institute in Bologna, Italy, new research shows that mice had a higher risk of developing cancer after consuming sucralose. His findings were presented at the Childhood Cancer 2012 conference in London.
Sucralose is a synthetic compound discovered in 1976 by British scientists who were looking for a new pesticide. The Splenda molecule is composed of sucrose (sugar), but three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecules have been replaced by chlorine atoms.
According to Marcelle Pick, Ob/Gyn NP, “While some industry experts claim the molecule is similar to table salt or sugar, other independent researchers say it has more in common with pesticides. That’s because the bonds holding the carbon and chlorine atoms together are more characteristic of a chlorocarbon than a salt--and most pesticides are chlorocarbons.”
Dr. Soffritti and his team found evidence of a heightened cancer risk associated with sucralose in a recent study during which they fed 843 mice various doses of the sugar from the time they were fetuses until they died. The post-mortem examinations showed that the more sucralose male mice ate, the greater was their likelihood of developing leukemia.
Other artificial sweeteners
Other artificial sweeteners have associated concerns as well. In particular, aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) was the subject of another study by Soffritti and his team. That research involved about 3,000 rodents who were fed aspartame, and the findings were not so sweet.
Dr. Soffritti noted that “Our early studies in rats showed increases in several types of cancer,” while his more recent studies showed “a statistically significant increase of liver and lung tumors in male mice. This shows aspartame causes cancer in various places of the body in two different species.” Soffritti is not the only one concerned about aspartame’s cancer risk, as the European Food Safety Authority undertook a new investigation because of increasing health concerns over the artificial sweetener.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has a list of food additives that it rates as “safe,” “cut back” (not toxic but large amounts may be unsafe or unhealthy), and “avoid” (unsafe in amounts consumed or poorly tested). Here is a brief review of artificial sweeteners on the “avoid” list: