Popular Artificial Sweetener May be Linked to DNA Damage

Popular Artificial Sweetener May be Linked to DNA Damage

M.C. Millman

Widely known by its brand name Splenda, the artificial sweetener sucralose showed some damaging impact on tissue when studied in the lab. 

The damage is linked to a byproduct of sucralose called sucralose-6-acetate. This byproduct was found to be "genotoxic" in a recently published study, meaning it can cause DNA damage. 

As one of the most popular sweeteners in America, sucralose is added to thousands of products. The sweetener can be in anything from foods and beverages to pharmaceutical products. It's likely in many products in your home, especially sugar-free or low-calorie foods, unless you're extremely careful with reading product labels. 

The FDA says sucralose is safe, explaining on its website that the organization "reviewed more than 110 studies designed to identify possible toxic effects, including studies on the reproductive and nervous systems, carcinogenicity, and metabolism," to determine the safety of sucralose.

Does this study offer enough evidence to disprove the years of research on the health impact of sucralose? Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Yocheved Millman weighs in, saying that the study findings are concerning. However, further research is needed to prove causation, particularly human studies. 

"This study was performed in test tubes, so it's hard to know how applicable it is to the human body at this time," Millman shares with BoroPark24. "It's important to understand that there may be risks associated with artificially produced sweeteners, like sucralose. Your best bet is to stick with naturally sweetened products and natural sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia."

Dr. John Damianos, a hospital resident at Yale School of Medicine, not involved in the research, told Medical News Today that "the paper studied sucralose-6-acetate in isolation..., and it is uncertain how much is produced in the human intestine."

Dr. Damianos added that "the findings raise potentially concerning findings that deserve further study, but do not practically reflect what occasional or even frequent ingestion of sucralose-sweetened food and beverages have on health."

A representative for the International Sweetener Association told Newsweek, "Sucralose has undergone one of the most extensive and thorough testing programs conducted on any food additive in history, resulting in consensus on its safety throughout the global scientific and regulatory community."  

At this point, the topic needs more research. Ditching sucralose and replacing it with sugar is associated with a host of other health problems. Your best bet is to stay cautious and be mindful of the amount of any sweetener you consume. "The dosage makes the poison."

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