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“Sugar-Free” Safety – A Review of Artificial Sweeteners


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“Sugar-Free” Safety – A Review of Artificial Sweeteners

Posted on May 15, 2015 - 8:00am

Corinne Easterling

Since they were first introduced on the market, artificial sweeteners have caused a lot of controversy. Some have argued that they cause cancer while others maintain they are perfectly safe. This blog is intended to help you decide if artificial sweeteners are appropriate for you.

Popular amongst diabetics and dieters, artificial sweeteners are synthetic substances used as substitutes for sugar. They include Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Sucralose, and Neotame and are 160-13,000 times sweeter than normal table sugar. Though some may leave an aftertaste, they contribute little to no dietary calories, as the body cannot efficiently absorb them. While their sweetness decreases the volume needed to enhance flavor, frequent or excessive consumption (10-50 grams) of artificial sweeteners can lead to gas, bloating, diarrhea, and intestinal discomfort.

So far, studies conducted on the safety of artificial sweeteners have been conflicting or inconclusive, leading many experts to debate whether or not artificial sweeteners should be legal. Two particularly famous studies linked saccharin to bladder cancer in rats, an association that could not be shown in humans, and aspartame to increased incidence of leukemia and lymphoma in humans, the validity of this study being questionable. Though considered to be “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS), the FDA has set Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) levels for each artificial sweetener. This level is set at 100 times less than the smallest amount that might cause health concerns when consumed daily over the course of a lifetime.

While they may be legally GRAS, some studies have linked the use of artificial sweeteners to increased weight gain and obesity. Though animal and observational studies have seen conflicting results linking artificial sweeteners to cancer, their association with increased BMIs can put individuals at a higher risk for certain cancers. Despite the controversy, the National Cancer Institute considers the five types of artificial sweeteners currently approved by the FDA to be safe for consumption by most people, including children and pregnant woman.

If you are concerned about the safety of artificial sweeteners and cancer risk, you may choose to avoid certain commercially produced foods (check the Nutrition Facts label), especially anything labeled “Sugar-Free.” Remember, as with all things, only consume artificial sweeteners in moderation and be cautious if you start to experience symptoms of  intestinal discomfort or weight gain.








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  • 4 years later...

I would like to share some dis-advantages of Artificial Sweeteners.

Here i am going to list down a few points. 

1. Weight Gain: The San Antonio Heart Study documented weight change in men and women over a seven- to eight-year period and offers evidence that weight gain and obesity were significantly greater in those drinking diet beverages compared with those who did not drink them. In another study, where the participants were adolescents, intake of artificially-sweetened beverages was associated with increased body mass index and increased body fat percentage in males and females at a two-year follow-up. Meanwhile, in Australia, where drinking artificially-sweetened beverages has increased while drinking sugar-sweetened beverages has declined, the rate of obesity has not decreased but been on the rise.

2. diabetes: In a European study, the risk for developing type 2 diabetes more than doubled for participants in the highest quartile of diet beverage consumption, compared with non-consumers. Of course, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was also associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Data from the Nurses' Health Study also indicated that risk for type 2 diabetes was amplified in those consuming at least one diet drink or sugar-sweetened drink per day; the same evidence was found by a European investigation into cancer and nutrition. Importantly, a pronounced spike in the risk of type 2 diabetes related to drinking artificially-sweetened beverages was seen even in those participants who were at a normal weight at the start of the study.

3. Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease: Within given age groups, the risk for coronary heart disease was significantly elevated in women who consumed more than two artificially-sweetened beverages per day or more than two sugar-sweetened beverages per day. Similarly, another study shows the risk of coronary heart disease was significantly elevated by both types of drinks. Consuming at least one artificially-sweetened beverage daily significantly elevated risk for hypertension for women in a number of studies; the same effect was found when the women in the study drank sugar-sweetened beverages. Results from another study indicated that daily consumption of artificially-sweetened beverages showed significantly increased risk of vascular events, equal in magnitude to daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

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