Artificial Sweeteners

  • Author:
    Betty Kovacs, MS, RD

    Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Saccharin: What are the cons?

The safety concerns of consuming products with saccharin remain even with the removal of the warning. According to a report written in 1997 by the Center for the Science in Public Interest (CSPI) in response to the National Toxicology Program (NTP) removing saccharin from the list of potential carcinogens, "It would be highly imprudent for the NTP to delist saccharin. Doing so would give the public a false sense of security, remove any incentive for further testing, and result in greater exposure to this probable carcinogen in tens of millions of people, including children (indeed, fetuses). If saccharin is even a weak carcinogen, this unnecessary additive would pose an intolerable risk to the public. Thus, we urge the NTP on the basis of currently available data to conclude that saccharin is 'reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen' because there is 'sufficient' evidence of carcinogenicity in animals (multiple sites in rats and mice) and 'limited' or 'sufficient' evidence of carcinogenicity in humans (bladder cancer) and not to delist saccharin, at least until a great deal of further research is conducted."

Another possible danger of saccharin is the possibility of allergic reactions. The reaction would be in response to it belonging to a class of compounds known as sulfonamides, which can cause allergic reactions in individuals who cannot tolerate sulfa drugs. Reactions can include headaches, breathing difficulties, skin eruptions, and diarrhea. It's also believed that the saccharin found in some infant formulas and can cause irritability and muscle dysfunction. For these reasons, many people still believe that the use of saccharin should be limited in infants, children, and pregnant women. Without research to support these claims, the FDA has not imposed any limitations.

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