Saturday, September 1, 2018

Sucralose revisited

Does sucralose (Splenda) have effects that were not reported when it was approved by the FDA in 1998? This research suggests that it does. A summary can be found here.

The developers originally claimed that most of the sucralose was not absorbed from the intestine but was secreted unchanged in the feces. And they said the small amount that was absorbed was secreted unchanged in the urine.

But this research shows that, at least in rats, some of the sucralose is metabolized to produce two new products that haven't been described before. They also show that some of the sucralose accumulates in fatty tissue.

The researcher say that the reason their findings differ from those used to gain FDA approval because they used more sensitive methods.

No one knows what the effect of having sucralose or its metabolites in fatty tissue is, so the researchers suggest that sucralose should be reexamined by the FDA. This is a long process, so in the meantime what should consumers do?

One commenter said that the amount of sucralose given to the rats is the equivalent of a 150-lb person drinking about 90 Diet Cokes in one day, suggesting that this research is irrelevant to real life. However accumulating a tiny amount in the fat tissue every day could build up over time in a person consuming a lot of sucralose.

Sucralose seems to be passed into breast milk, and because growing infants are more susceptible than adults to the effects of any toxins, it would be prudent to find alternative sweeteners during pregnancy and nursing.

Today, as I pointed out recently, we have a choice of many sweeteners. We really don't know the long-term effects of consuming a lot of any of them, even those extracted from the stevia plant. So one approach would be to give up sweet things altogether. Most people wouldn't want to do that.

Another approach would be to eat small amounts of different sweeteners, rather than choosing only one. And downing huge amounts of diet sodas is not a great idea regardless of how they are sweetened.

We should remember that this is only one study, done in rats, and it needs to be replicated before the results are certain. In the meantime, we should be aware of the possible detrimental results from yet-another sweetener.