Splenda Possibly Linked to Cancer, New Study Finds

By , Melissa Rudy, Health & Fitness Journalist
Since its 1999 debut, Splenda has become the country's most popular artificial sweetener, not only for sweetening coffee and tea, but also for cooking and baking. Until now, the sucralose-based Splenda has been considered a safe sugar substitute, but a new study has shown that it could possibly be linked to cancer and other major health issues.

Published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, the independent study found mice that ingested sucralose every day developed various types of blood cancers, including leukemia. It's important to note that the mice were given very high doses of sucralose, equivalent to what's found in 10 cans of diet soda per day, and the study was not performed on humans. 

In 2013, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nutritional consumer advocacy group, downgraded its rating of Splenda from "Safe" to "Caution." And now, in light of these new study findings, CSPI has further downgraded the rating to "Avoid."

“We recommend that consumers avoid sucralose, or Splenda, and we recommend consumers also avoid saccharin, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium,” said CSPI president Michael F. Jacobson in a statement on the organization's website. However, Jacobson also pointed out that consuming too much regular sugar carries a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity than the cancer risk posed by artificial sweeteners.

In addition to the potential for increased cancer risk, artificial sweeteners have also been linked to higher rates of obesity, diabetes and elevated blood sugar levels. Although Splenda is intended to negate the need for high-calorie sugars, it can actually lead to stronger cravings and higher food consumption. To avoid the risks associated with Splenda, Jacobson recommends sticking with water, seltzer or flavored waters.

Of course, this is just a single study performed on rats and not humans, and there have been many other studies indicating that Splenda is safe to consume in moderation, as are other artificial sweeteners.

Learn more about artificial sweeteners and healthy beverage guidelines.

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