New-Found Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer
Do you think Splenda is a healthy alternative to sugar? Well, if you use it regularly, you better think twice. Researchers from the Ramazzini Institute have found a link between Splenda and cancer, more specifically leukemia.
The results of the research were presented at the 2012 London cancer conference. This made CSPI (The Center for Science in the Public Interest) put Splenda into the “caution” category instead of its previous category of “safe.”
Now, after a peer-reviewed journal published the study, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has once again downgraded Splenda to the category of “avoid.”
Splenda Can Raise the Risk of Cancer in Mice
Mice were given different concentrations of Splenda prenatally as well as during their entire lifespan. The doses were 0ppm, 500 ppm, 2,000 ppm, 8,000 ppm, and 16,000 ppm (parts per million.)
The risk of cancerous tumors was significantly raised in male mice along with the dose. For instance, the chances of developing leukemia increased drastically when they were given 2,000 to 16,000 ppm doses of Splenda.
According to the study, sucralose is not biologically inert and further studies should support its safety for people.
On the other hand, the new one included more animals, exposing them to Splenda before even they were born, as well as throughout their entire life.
So, the CSPI recommendation for Splenda now is to avoid this product. However, we must mention that you have to take the CSPI guidelines with a grain of salt.
This is because they do advise avoiding aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and other artificial sweeteners, but they say diet soda is healthier, that is, safer, than regular soda.
4,500 Products Contain Splenda
Avoiding Splenda is not easy, as you can find it in over 4,500 different products. Some brands replaced aspartame with Splenda, saying it’s a safer alternative. One of them is PepsiCo’s popular product Diet Pepsi.
Throughout the years, Splenda became extremely popular. By 2012, it generated a profit of almost $288 million.
Nevertheless, Splenda is not a natural product even though it begins as a sugar molecule, technically speaking. The patented process of producing sucralose includes 5 steps in which 3 chlorine molecules are added to the sugar molecule or sucrose.
The sucrose molecule contains two monosaccharide residues, fructose, and glucose. The chemical manufacturing process to get sucralose changes the sugar’s chemical composition completely, making it into a fructose-galactose molecule.
If you think you can find this molecule in nature, you are wrong. This means your body can’t metabolize it properly. Splenda manufacturers say it’s because of this “characteristic” biochemical change that your body can’t metabolize or digest it, making it have 0 calories.
As they explain, Splenda should only pass through your body. But, the research (even though based only on animal studies) says your digestive system absorbs about 15% of sucralose which ends up being stored in your body.
Splenda Might Destroy the Gut Bacteria
Besides being a potential cancer-causing agent, Splenda can also distort your gut bacteria. This, in turn, can cause numerous health problems.
For example, the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health published a 12-week study which discovered that Splenda splits the amount of good gut bacteria in rates while raising their pH level.
Moreover, researchers say Splenda affected the way human’s body metabolized certain drugs. It raised the fecal pH and reduced the number of total anaerobes, lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, Clostridia, Bacteroides, and total aerobic bacteria.
All this happened at dosages which contained 1.1-11 mg/kg sucralose (the accepted daily dosage for sucralose according to the U.S. FDA is 5 mg/kg.)
Studies discovered that taking Splenda for 12 weeks caused various health problems. Some of them are raised fecal pH, reduced good fecal microflora, and enhanced expression levels of CYP2D1, CYP3A4, and P-gp which limit the absorption of orally administered drugs in the body.
Splenda Increases the Insulin Levels
A research has proven that Splenda influences the body’s response to insulin. The participants in the study drank a beverage including Splenda, and their insulin levels increased by 20%.
What’s more, there was also an increase in their levels of blood sugar. This means Splenda also affect the glucose response.
Researchers know that sucralose has some effect on the insulin and glucose response to glucose ingestion, but they are not sure about the exact mechanism responsible.
The bottom line is we need more studies to investigate the exact influence of sucralose on the body’s ability to handle sugar in the long run.
Artificial Sweeteners Like Splenda Confuse the Metabolism
Consuming something sweet causes release of dopamine and leptin. These hormones are responsible for activating the reward center in your brain and controlling your appetite. Once you ingest enough calories, leptin informs your brain that you’re no longer hungry, so you stop eating.
But, if your ingest something like an artificial sweetener, its sweet taste will activate your brain’s pleasure center. However, calories won’t arrive because there’s nothing to deactivate.
In other words, artificial sweeteners like Splenda confuse your body to think that it’ll receive calories/sugar. But, because it won’t get any sugar, your body will keep sending signals to your brain that it needs. The result – carb cravings!
30 years of research points out that artificial sweeteners increase carb cravings, stimulate appetite, and cause metabolic dysfunctions which contribute to weight gain and fat storage.
For example, in 2010, the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine published a review which suggests a significant link between the increased use of foods and drinks containing artificial sweeteners, and the growing obesity rate. The study included 11,650 children between the age of 9 and 14. Their body mass index increased for 0.16 kg/m2 with each daily serving of diet drink.
The graphic below disproves the beverage industry’s statement that diet soda containing artificial sweetener helps the weight loss process.
Is There a Safe Artificial Sweetener?
Even though aspartame is probably the most dangerous artificial sweetener on the market, it’s best to avoid all of them.
For instance, sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, xylitol, glucitol, glycerol, mannitol, and lactitol are other available option. However, they are not calorie-free even though that’s what it says on the label, and are not as sweet as sugar.
Still, they contain less calories than sugar. On the other hand, ingesting too many food products with sugar alcohol can cause diarrhea and abdominal gas. One more thing, the common sugar alcohol maltitol increases blood sugar levels just like a starchy potato.
Speaking about blood sugar spikes, xylitol is probably the better option than aspartame and Splenda. It even provides some benefits to your health when taken in pure form. But, keep it away from your pet as it’s toxic to some animals, including dogs.
All in all, Luo Han Guo (or Luo Han Kuo) and Stevia are the two best natural alternatives to sugar. They come from the same plant kingdom. You can find Stevia as a supplement and use it to sweeten various drinks and dishes.
On the other hand, Luo Han Guo is harder to find and more pricey. Also, it’s much sweeter than sugar, or more exactly, 200 times.
How to Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
The first step would be to stop your sugar cravings. Here are some tricks that will help you achieve that:
- Turbo Tapping – an energy psychology technique that will help you kick the habit of drinking sodas or consuming any other sweet drink or food
- Exercise – a good round of cardiovascular exercise will significantly reduce your appetite, especially for sweets
- Organic, black coffee – thanks to the cafestol in its content which help reduce the addictive power of sugar
- Sour taste – this includes fermented vegetables, lemon water, or lime juice.