If you are concerned about healthy eating, you may want to reconsider consuming artificial sweeteners. These artificial sweeteners can cause cancer, among other dangerous side effects. Here is a look at a few common sweeteners.
Aspartame was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981 and is about 200 times sweeter than table sugar. It is sold under the brand names Equal, Sugar Twin, and Nutrasweet. Over 100 studies support its safety; however, people with phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid aspartame. PKU is a rare condition in which the body cannot properly metabolize phenylalanine, one of
Over 100 studies support its safety; however, people with phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid aspartame. PKU is a rare condition in which the body cannot properly metabolize phenylalanine, one of aspartame’s components. All products containing aspartame must state on the label that the product contains phenylalanine. (1)
All products containing aspartame must state on the label that the product contains phenylalanine. (1)
Splenda is the brand name for sucralose, and many studies link Splenda with an increased risk in leukemia and other cancers.
A 2012 London cancer conference revealed study findings, prompting The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to downgrade Splenda from the “safe” category to one of “caution.” Publication of the Splenda study in a peer-reviewed journal led to it being downgraded from “caution” to “avoid.”
A study among male mice tracked cancerous tumors along with increasing doses, and found that the higher the dose, the greater the incidence of tumors.
The risk of leukemia significantly increased at the higher doses. Splenda has also been found in municipal water in the U.S. and Europe, and may be neurotoxic. Researchers testing the effects of sucralose on water fleas found that it may affect neurological mechanisms which influence animal behavior and physiology. (2)
Neotame is a derivative of aspartame and may be even more toxic. Monsanto developed Neotame by adding 3-dimethylbutyl to aspartame. You’ll also find 3-demethylbutyl on the FDA’s most hazardous chemical list as being highly flammable and an irritant to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. (3)
Don’t bother to look for neotame on food labels, however. Although it is widely available in prepared foods, it manages to dodge the need for a mention on food labels, even on organic foods.
Neotame was easily approved by the FDA in 2002 when Monsanto’s patent on Aspartame was expiring. At the time it was approved, only four studies were found. Two were not studies and the other two were a single study done by researchers with the Nutrasweet Company. (4)
Early studies in the 1970s found a link between saccharin and bladder cancer in rats. Further studies were mandated and a warning label was placed on foods containing saccharin. It was later found that the mechanism in rats causing bladder cancer was not relevant to humans.
Saccharin was taken off the warning list in 2000. (5)
Recent studies have found that saccharin raises blood sugar levels due to changes in gut bacteria triggered by the additive. These studies have been mainly conducted on mice, while human studies are based on very small sample sizes. (6)
Other side effects from artificial sweeteners
Cancer is not the only concern with artificial sweeteners. A 2008 study found that drinking more than two diet sodas a day doubled the risk for kidney decline in women.
Diet sodas were linked with a possible increased risk of vascular events in a 2012 study. Multiple studies have found that daily diet soda consumption may cause metabolic syndrome, a type of pre-diabetes, and type 2 diabetes. (7)
In one study, participants drank a Splenda-sweetened beverage. Their insulin levels rose 20 percent higher than when they only drank water before a glucose-challenge test.
Resulting blood sugar levels after drinking Splenda were also increased. Researchers concluded that there was an effect on insulin and blood sugar levels with Splenda-based beverages, but don’t know the mechanism responsible. (2)
When you eat as well as drink something sweet, brain releases the dopamine, which is associated with the brain’s reward center. Leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone released too. It tells the brain that you are “full” after a certain number of calories has been ingested.
With artificial sweeteners, the body is tricked and informs that sugar is coming soon. When the sugar calories do not arrive, the body keeps sending out signals. That’s demands more, which causes carbohydrate cravings.
Many large studies over the last thirty years have concluded that specious sweeteners stimulate appetite, increase carb cravings, and promote fat storage and weight gain.
A 2010 study at Yale with more than 11,650 children aged 9 to 14 found that each daily serving of a diet beverage was associated with a body mass index (BMI) increase of 0.16 kg/m2. (2)
One study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that diet soda drinkers gained almost triple the belly fat over nine years as those who didn’t drink diet soda. People who drank diet soda daily gained 3.2 inches around their waist, while those who didn’t drink diet soda only gained 0.8 inches.
Belly fat is more dangerous than other types of fat because it pads the abdomen from the inside (called visceral fat). Visceral fat increases inflammation, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Given the increased cancer risks, diabetes, inflammation, heart disease, and weight gain, you may decide to give up artificial sweeteners forever.
Two of the best natural sugar substitutes are plant-based. Stevia is a sweet herb derived from the South American stevia plant, and is completely safe in its natural form. It can be used in most dishes and drinks.
Luo Han Guo (also spelled Luo Han Kuo) is similar to Stevia. The Chinese have used the fruit for centuries as a sweetener, but it is a bit harder to find and more expensive than Stevia. (2)
The best option is to eliminate sugar cravings and avoid all artificial sweeteners. Regular, intense cardiovascular exercise is one of the best ways to keep sugar cravings in check, as well as decrease appetite.
You may also try organic black coffee. Coffee is a potent opioid receptor antagonist, meaning that it binds to opioid receptors and blocks your addiction to opioid-releasing foods. This can help combat the addictive qualities of sugar.