Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe For Human Consumption

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A lot of people are using artificial sweeteners for different purposes. One of the concerns they have is: are artificial sweeteners safe?

Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe

The discovery of artificial sweeteners was by an accident. During a lab research a scientist discovered that a chemical substance tasted by accident and found that it was very sweet. And this led to development of artificial sweeteners. Since then different types of these have been used by people to enjoy sweetness and as a tool for weight control (though benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight loss are controversial and some research suggests that these actually cause weight gain in the long term).

Some of the most commonly known artificial sweeteners are Aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal), Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet N’ Low) and Sucralose (Splenda).

Is Saccharin Safe?

One of the most common criticism about safety of artificial sweeteners is that these cause cancer. Saccharin, the most popular of the artificial sweeteners was almost banned after the laboratory studies on rats indicated that it caused cancer of bladder, skin etc. However, no studies on humans have concluded that use of Saccharin causes or increases cancer risk. And even in laboratory studies, it increased the chances of cancer only in male rats.

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According to the National Cancer Institute of the United States, none of the approved artificial sweeteners has been linked with cancer in humans. So the answer to the question: are artificial sweeteners safe for humans is yes they are as far as cancer is concerned. And no other significant health issues have been identified or linked with the artificial sweeteners.

Is Sucralose Safe?

Similarly the studies on rats have linked Sucralose to different diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. Initially it was thought that Sucralose is not digested by the body and excretes out without becoming part of the body. However, recent research has concluded that it is actually metabolized by the body and can be potentially linked to the following problems:

  • It alters and affects the good bacteria found in the human digestive system
  • It limits the absorption of drugs for heart disease and cancer and therefore decreases the efficacy of drugs
  • When used in baking, it decomposes and releases a toxin called¬†chloroproanols.
  • It may also alter insulin responses, genes and may also cause inflammation of bowels.
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However, do note that all the above is based on research on rats which might not be a true indication of the effects on humans. At least you can get safer teeth with artificial sweeteners because of the non consumption of sugar.

In a nutshell, no real scientific evidence has concluded that artificial sweeteners are unsafe for humans. However, the best approach is to use real sugar, in moderation.

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