Sucralose found in common sweetener damages DNA and may cause cancer

  • New research shows that a chemical found in Splenda, sucralose-6-acetate, is “genotoxic”, causing DNA damage.
  • The results show that sucralose-6-acetate is harmful to gut health and can lead to oxidative stress, inflammation and even cancer.
  • When choosing sugar substitutes, stevia or monk fruit can be considered healthier options.

Many people turn to artificial sugar substitutes to reduce calorie intake, but a growing body of evidence shows the potential health risks associated with these substances.

Now, a new study has revealed that a chemical, sucralose-6-acetate, found in sucralose (sold under the trade name Splenda) causes DNA damage.

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have determined that the chemical is “genotoxic”, meaning it harms genetic information in cells. cells. They also exposed human intestinal tissue to sucralose to examine the effects on gut health and the potential for carcinogenicity.

The results were recently published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.

Susan SchiffmanPhD, corresponding author of the study and adjunct professor in the joint department of biomedical engineering at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said Medical News Today:

“The most compelling finding was that a contaminant and metabolite of sucralose could damage DNA in human blood cells and express genes in human intestinal epithelium that can induce inflammation and even cancer.”

For the study, the researchers exposed human blood cells to sucralose-6-acetate in several in vitro experiments. The results showed signs of genotoxicity.

Researchers also found that sucralose caused leaky gut, or damage to the intestinal lining. Additionally, they observed the genetic activity of intestinal cells and found that sucralose caused an increase in gene activity linked to oxidative stress, inflammation and carcinogenicity.

The results support the growing evidence of the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners, such as an increased risk of heart disease And cancer.

“For many years, artificial sweeteners have already been suspected of having carcinogenic effects”, Dr Danielle Leonardoa board-certified internal medicine and medical oncology specialist in Calabarzon, the Philippines, not involved in the research, said DTM.

“This (study) is another push towards confirming that hypothesis. I believe we have already established the basic research for the theory and the preliminary data is already there,” Dr Leonardo added.

While the results are concerning, it’s unclear how sucralose might affect health on a larger scale. As such, more research into the effects of sucrose-6-acetate is still needed, especially in human trials.

“We are limited by the fact that these are only in vitro (test tube) and animal studies and therefore we are still a long way from discovering its applicability in human patients,” explained Dr. Leonardo.

Dr. John Damianosa Yale School of Medicine hospital resident not involved in the research said DTM that “the article studied sucralose-6-acetate in isolation”.

“Although this compound is a sucralose intermediate (comprising up to 0.67% sucralose) and a metabolite, it does not constitute the majority of ingested sucralose, and the amount produced in the human gut is uncertain” , he noted.

Dr. Damianos added that “the findings potentially raise concerning findings that warrant further study, but do not substantially reflect what occasional or even frequent ingestion of sucralose-sweetened foods and beverages has on health.”

According to Dr. Schiffman, the next steps in research will be to examine the biological impact of sucralose when combined with acesulfame-K, another artificial sweetener that often accompanies sucralose in food products.

Future research on sucralose could also include population-based studies, which could further scientists’ understanding of the link between sucralose-6-acetate and cancer.

“Population-based studies of the cancer risk of sucralose-6-acetate may be considered in the future. But it will be difficult to establish a direct causal relationship between sucralose-6-acetate and cancer. due to the multifactorial dimension of cancer.Yet these data already suggest that the public is being more cautious about taking these artificial sweeteners and is turning to other “safer” alternatives.

– Dr. Danielle Leonardo, certified specialist in internal medicine and medical oncology

If you’re wondering if consuming small amounts of refined sugar is better than excessive amounts of artificial sugar, it may ultimately come down to how much you consume.

THE Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends people over the age of 2 limit their sugar intake to no more than 10% of their daily calories — or no more than 10 teaspoons of sugar per day. Children under the age of 2 should not consume added sugars at all.

Still, health experts have warned that 10 teaspoons of sugar a day may still be too much. The American Heart Association (AHA), for example, recommended no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men.

“We know that excess refined sugar is associated with a myriad of adverse health effects,” Dr. Damianos said. “There is also an accumulation of data that some artificial sweeteners may also be harmful.”

For overall health, experts recommend following a healthy diet that emphasizes whole foods and limits processed foods and foods high in sugar.

Dr Damianos said a balanced diet is “consistently associated with better health outcomes”.

Experts recommend avoiding added sugars as much as possible, which can include natural sugars such as honey or agave.

When choosing sugar substitutes, you can opt for stevia or monk fruit over artificial sweeteners, but it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first, especially if you have diabetes. a health problem like diabetes.

“Natural sugar substitutes that aren’t created in labs are considered healthier alternatives,” Dr. Leonardo said.

Considering the risks of refined sugar, Dr. Damianos said he encourages his patients to consider healthier low-sugar or no-sugar alternatives.

“Instead of club soda or diet soda, switch to seltzer water,” Dr. Damianos recommended.

“Instead of highly processed foods and drinks to satisfy that sweet tooth, have fruits with their natural sugars coupled with an abundance of fiber and health-boosting phytonutrients,” he added.

“Date sugar and yacon syrup are unique alternatives to sugar that have a lower glycemic index than sugar, may have health benefits, and make great baking. Coconut sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrup and agave are commonly used but can still raise blood sugar so should be used sparingly. I also encourage patients to consider the whole diet, paying particular attention to increasing dietary fiber and healthy fats, which lower the insulin spike.

– Dr. John Damianos, Yale School of Medicine


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