People today consume too much sugar for their own good. Excessive consumption has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. A single can of cola has 10 teaspoons of sugar, yogurt has 3 teaspoons of added sugar, and so do most cereals. Two teaspoons time 3 cups of coffee, and the numbers add up. The average American consumes 141 lbs of sugar and other sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup per year!
Every once in a while, science comes to the rescue with the introduction of a new zero-calorie sweetener intended to replace sugar and its needless calories. Many are artificial sweeteners, synthesized in labs. Unfortunately, some of these sweeteners pose even greater health risks than sugar-induced weight gain. Cancer anyone? Some of the newer 0-calorie sweeteners have not been sufficiently tested to assess their long term impact on human health.
Many of the studies that concluded artificial sweeteners are safe were funded, if not conducted, by the companies who introduced them into market. Research has shown that studies funded by industry tend to reach the conclusion … desired by industry.
Another problem with zero-calorie sweeteners is that instead of trying to reduce our collective sweet tooth, we rely on artificial sweeteners as crutches. They increase our palate’s preference for highly sweet food and drink and ultimately we consume more sweetened foods.
The best piece of advice we can offer you is to learn to reduce your need for sweet.
Here is a list of non-caloric sweeteners from worst to
best least worst:
- Also known as Sucaryl
- 30-50 times sweeter than table sugar
- Discovered by accident in 1937 by a graduate student at the University of Illinois
- Approved for use in 1958
- A 1969 study showed that cyclamate could lead to bladder cancer in rats.
- Banned by the FDA in 1969 after evidence of liver damage, bladder cancer, birth defects, and shrinkage of testes (ouch)
- Surprisingly, cyclamate is still being used in other countries.
- Also known as Sweet N Low, E954
- 300-500 times sweeter than table sugar
- The oldest artificial sweetener, it was created in 1878!
- Tests in the 1970′s showed a link to bladder cancer in rodents
- The USDA & FDA proposed banning saccharin in 1972, then again in 1977, but agreed to warning labels instead
- In 2000, warning labels were deemed no longer necessary after better understanding of the differences between human and rat metabolisms led to the conclusion that saccharin would not harm humans.
- Also known as: Acesulfame-K, Ace-K, E950, Sunett, Sweet-One
- 200 times sweeter than table sugar and has a bitter after taste
- Approved by the FDA in 1998
- Discovered accidentally in the late Sixties
- It is usually used in conjunction with aspartame or sucralose
- Safety tests were conducted in the 1970′s and 1980′s, were poorly designed and left questions that even the FDA addressed in working level communications
- 2 Rat studies showed Ace-k may cause cancer.
- Also known as Nutrasweet, Equal, E951
- 200 times sweeter than sugar
- Discovered by accident in 1965 by scientists working for a company that would later be acquired by Monsanto
- In 1974 the FDA did not approve aspartame, because industry sponsored safety studies were not conducted in a satisfactory manner
- The FDA finally approved aspartame in 1981 after additional testing (industry sponsored)
- Today the FDA stance is that aspartame is “one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved”. Unfortunately these are industry funded studies
- 3 independent rodent studies in 2005, 2007, and 2010 found that aspartame does cause lymphomas, leukemias, and other tumors. Exposure during gestation and in early life was especially dangerous. The FDA refutes the findings of these studies.
- Also known as E961
- Up to 13,000 times sweeter than table sugar!
- Approved by the FDA in 2002
- Manufactured by the same company that makes aspartame (NutraSweet)
- Unlike aspartame, chemically stable and can be used in baked goods
- Rarely used because the taste profile is problematic
- Safety studies were all sponsored by industry.
- Also known as Splenda, E955
- Up to 1000 times sweeter than table sugar
- Approved by the FDA in 1998
- Stable when heated and can be used in baking
- The manufacturer, McNeil Nutritionals, claims that sucralose “made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar.” In fact, it is a synthetic product made by a chemical reaction of sugar (sucrose) and chlorine
- Potential issues include DNA alternation (a 2002 study in mice) and damage to healthy gut bacteria (2008)
- A 2013 study (unpublished yet) indicated sucralose may cause cancer in rats.
- Also known as Rebaudioside A, Reb-A, Rebiana, Pure Via, Truvia
- Up to 300 times sweeter than sugar
- Approved by the FDA in 2008
- The stevia plant, native of South America, is naturally sweet and has been in use for hundreds of years
- The powdered stevia sweetener is derived from the stevia leaf through a complex chemical process
- Not enough studies have been conducted on stevia extracts. Some studies showed infertility in mice and potential for genetic mutations. Further research is needed.
8. Monkfruit Sweetener
- Also known as Luo Han Guo, Lo Han Kuo, Nectresse
- 200 times sweeter than table sugar
- Extracted from Monkfruit through a complex process
- No health issues at present, but not enough research has been conducted.
- Testing Needed for Acesulfame Potassium, an Artificial Sweetener – Karstadt, M. L. (2006), Environmental Health Perspectives
- Low-calorie Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes: A Review of the Safety Issues – Kroger, Meister, Kava (2006), Wiley
- Saccharin mechanistic data and risk assessment: Urine composition, enhanced cell proliferation, and tumor promotion – Whysner, Williams (1996) Pharmacology & Therapeutics
- Aspartame induces lymphomas and leukaemias in rats – Soffritti, Belpoggi, Esposti, Lambertini (2005) Cancer Research Centre, European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences, Bologna, Italy
- The comet assay with 8 mouse organs: results with 39 currently used food additives – Sasaki, Kawaguchi, Kamaya, Ohshita, Kabasawa, Iwama, Taniguchi, Tsuda (2002), Mutational Research
- Toxicology of Rebaudioside A: A Review – Kobylewski, Eckert (2008) – UCLA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES
AND MOLECULAR TOXICOLOGY
Soffritti M, Padovani M, Tibaldi E, Falcioni L, Manservisi F, Belpoggi F. The carcinogenic effects of aspartame: The urgent need for regulatory re-evaluation. Am J Ind Med. 2014;57(4):383-97.
Schernhammer ES, Bertrand KA, Birmann BM, Sampson L, Willett WC, Feskanich D. Consumption of artificial sweetener–and sugar-containing soda and risk of lymphoma and leukemia in men and women. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:1419–28.
Soffritti M, Belpoggi F, Manservigi M, Tibaldi E, Lauriola M, Falcioni L, Bua L. 2010. Aspartame administered in feed, beginning prenatally through life span, induces cancers of the liver and lung in male Swiss mice. Am J Ind Med. 2010;53(12):1197-206.
Soffritti M, Belpoggi F, Tibaldi E, Degli Esposti D, Lauriola M. Life span exposure to low doses of aspartame beginning during prenatal life increases cancer effects in rats. Environ Health Perspect 2007;115(9):1293-7.
Soffriti M, Belpoggi F, Degli Esposti D, Lambertini L, Tibaldi E, Rigano A. First experimental demonstration of the multipotential carcinogenic effects of aspartame administered in the feed to Sprague-Dawley rats. Environ Health Perspect 2006;114:379–385.
Bryan GT, Erturk E, Yoshida O. Production of urinary bladder carcinomas in mice by sodium saccharin. Science 1970;168:1238–40.
Arnold DL, Moodie CA, Grice HC, Charbonneau SM, Stavric B, Collins BT, et al. Long-term toxicity of orthotoluenesulfonamide and sodium saccharin in the rat. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 1980;52:113–52.
Reuber MD. Carcinogenicity of saccharin. Environ Health Perspect 1978;25:173-200.
Murasaki G, Cohen SM. Co-carcinogenicity of sodium saccharin and N-1983;4:97–9.
Hoover RN, Strasser PH. Artificial sweeteners and human bladder cancer: Preliminary results. Lancet 1980;1:837-40.