Saturday, April 20, 2013

Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause Cancer?

Have you heard that some artificial sweeteners may cause cancer? Do you avoid those sweeteners for that reason? 

Studies of saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, and other artificial sweeteners, have not provided clear evidence that they can cause cancer in humans. These studies are reported by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

In the 1970s a study with rats showed saccharin was linked with bladder cancer. Further study showed this only applies to rats. It was eventually discovered that the amount of saccharin fed to the rats was very large. Smaller dosages proportional to the size of the rats may not have caused cancer. Human studies have not shown any evidence that saccharin produces bladder cancer. Saccharin was removed from the list of human carcinogens in the US, and legislation was passed allowing products containing saccharin. It is still banned in Canada and some other countries.

I started using saccharin in the 1940s, after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Saccharin has not caused me any problems. The product known as Sweet-n-Low contains saccharin in the US, and I have used that sweetener for many years. 

Aspartame is found in many products, and has trade names: NutraSweet and Equal. It was approved in 1981 by the FDA. Tests have shown that aspartame caused cancer in rats, but only when the dosages were very high. It was suggested that aspartame might cause brain and central nervous system cancer in humans, however, this kind of cancer had begun to rise in the US in 1973, eight years prior to the approval of aspartame. The group most affected by increases in brain cancer were people age 70 and older. That group was not exposed to the very high doses of aspartame since it was first introduced. It was concluded that there was no clear link between aspartame and brain cancer in humans. 

I used to use a sweetener called Sucaryl, which contained cyclamates. It was found that cyclamates caused bladder cancer in rats. The FDA banned cyclamates in 1969, but further study showed that cyclamates was not a carcinogen. A petition was filed for reapproval of cyclamates. No final decision has been made, but the FDA's concerns are not related to cancer.

The discussion above involves the possibilities of cancer, but it seems that no currently used artificial sweetener has been proved to cause cancer. There are many reports that certain artificial sweeteners cause undesirable side effects, and some of them have been substantiated. Many people have stated that they have undesirable side effects when they use certain artificial sweeteners. This discussion, however, involves only the possibility of cancer. 

The following link gives a much more thorough report on the studies involved in this discussion.

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/f...ial-sweeteners

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