Splenda, the artificial sweetener whose main active ingredient is sucralose, has been deemed unsafe by a new study. Apparently, the product, once considered safe, and still found in popular cold drinks, may contribute to serious health problems like leukaemia and other blood cancers.
Many have sworn off sugar because the sweetener has been proven to have quite a few detrimental effects on metabolism. Sugar is also blamed for slowly deteriorating your health. For these reasons, many people have turned to artificial sweeteners like sucralose. However, while sucralose, which is available under the brand name Splenda, has been legally deemed safe for human consumption, some studies have linked it to serious health problems.
New research suggested that Splenda may cause serious health problems, including cancer. A study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health found that mice that were fed sucralose (the main ingredient in Splenda) daily throughout their lives eventually developed leukemia and other blood cancers. In response to the findings, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) — a nutrition watchdog group that assesses the safety of food additives—has now formally recommended that consumers avoid the sweetener, reported Eat Clean.
Until 2013, the CSPI was a strong supporter of the artificial sweetener. Interestingly, the lab has been in the midst of a controversy, as an Italian scientist had claimed that Splenda caused cancer way back in 2012. However, it appears CSPI has taken a U-turn on its stand against Splenda and added, "This new evidence is especially powerful because it was funded without special interests in mind," shared Lisa Lefferts, MSPH, senior scientist at the CSPI,
"For most food additives, the safety studies are conducted by the manufacturers who have financial incentives."What is Splenda? Sucralose, the active ingredient in Spelnda, is a chemical that interestingly, is made from sugar. It is an artificial sweetener that's approximately 600 times sweeter than sucrose, the active ingredient in table sugar. It is actively used in over 4,500 products. It was accidentally discovered in 1976.
Introduced in the US in 1999, Splenda instantly caught the attention of many industries that needed a potent sweetener. Moreover, it is commonly used as a sugar substitute in both cooking and baking, reported Alternet. One of the strongest selling points for Splenda is that it doesn't have a bitter aftertaste like many other popular sweeteners.
Marketed well, Splenda is one of the most popular sweeteners in the country. It is often advertised as a zero-calorie substitute to normal sugar. Ironically though, while sucralose is calorie-free, Splenda also contains the carbs dextrose and maltodextrin. The recipe for Splenda effectively raises the calorie content up to 3.36 calories per gram. However, since a miniscule amount of the artificial sweetener is required, the overall effect is negligible.
Splenda caught media's attention when Pepsi decided to ditch aspartame in favor of Splenda. The soft drink giant began adding the sweetener to Diet Pepsi. Health advocates have long advised to avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose.
The new study strongly indicates that persistently consuming large quantities of Splenda can lead to chronic health problems, reported Well And Good. Interestingly, if the study is extrapolated to humans, we would have to consume at least 10 cans of diet soda per day to increase the chances of developing complications. Needless to say, consumption of such high quantities is rather rare, but certainly not impossible, especially if you are consuming other foods and drinks that contain Splenda. Worryingly, limiting consumption of the artificial sweetener doesn't eliminate the risk entirely, cautioned Lefferts,
"And even if you consume less, that doesn't mean there's no problem. When something causes cancer at high doses, it generally causes cancer at lower doses, the risk is just smaller."There have been multiple research studies in the past that urge you to avoid artificial sweeteners like Splenda or sucralose. From weight gain to insulin imbalance and from obesity risk to irregular eating habits, scientists have been urging to skip such products and try other natural substitutes to sugar, like stevia.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]