A new study reveals health concerns about the sugar substitute sucralose so alarming that researchers said people should stop eating it and the government should regulate it more.
Sucralose is sold under the brand name Splenda and is also used as an ingredient in packaged foods and beverages.
The findings were published this week in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B. The researchers conducted a series of laboratory experiments exposing human blood cells and gut tissue to sucralose-6-acetate. The findings build on previous research that linked sucralose to gut health problems.
The researchers found that sucralose causes DNA to break apart, putting people at risk for disease. They also linked sucralose to leaky gut syndrome, which means the lining of the intestines are worn down and become permeable. Symptoms are a burning sensation, painful digestion, diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
When a substance damages DNA, it is called genotoxic. Researchers have found that eating sucralose results in the body producing a substance called sucralose-6-acetate, which the new study now shows is genotoxic. The researchers also found sucralose-6-acetate in trace amounts in off-the-shelf products that are so high, they would exceed the safety levels currently allowed in Europe.
“It’s time to revisit the safety and regulatory status of sucralose because the evidence is mounting that it carries significant risks. If nothing else, I encourage people to avoid products containing sucralose,” said researcher Susan Schiffman, PhD, adjunct professor of biomedical engineering at North Carolina State University, in a statement. “It’s something you should not be eating.”
The FDA says sucralose is safe, describing it as 600 times sweeter than table sugar and used in “baked goods, beverages, chewing gum, gelatins, and frozen dairy desserts.”
“To determine the safety of sucralose, the FDA reviewed more than 110 studies designed to identify possible toxic effects, including studies on the reproductive and nervous systems, carcinogenicity, and metabolism,” the agency explained on its website. “The FDA also reviewed human clinical trials to address metabolism and effects on patients with diabetes.”
North Carolina State University: “Chemical Found in Common Sweetener Damages DNA.”
Cleveland Clinic: “Leaky Gut Syndrome.”
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B: “Toxicological and pharmacokinetic properties of sucralose-6-acetate and its parent sucralose: in vitro screening assays.”
FDA: “Aspartame and Other Sweeteners in Food.”
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