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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Artificial Sweeteners: Cancer Causing?

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Of all of the questions I get asked about nutrition, I would say that artificial sweeteners are one of the most commonly asked about topics. So every time I see a headline with a recent study on the safety of artificial sweeteners I take notice.

The latest was actually done in Italy and was published in the August 2009 issue of Cancer and Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. The researchers looked for a link between intake of artificial sweeteners and stomach, pancreatic, or endometrial cancers. They found no link.

Just a few years ago in 2007, a review was published in Critical Reviews in Toxicology looking at aspartame and it was found that there were no adverse effects after looking at over 500 studies and reports from the past 25 years.

While the internet contains many, many reports of diseases that are linked to intake of artificial sweeteners, the science continues to be strong in supporting no link.

If you enjoy artificial sweeteners, use them in moderation. What does moderation mean? It depends on the sweetener, but every sweetener on the market has an "acceptable daily intake (ADI)" that is the maximum amount considered safe to eat each day during your lifetime. The ADI is set to be much lower (about 100 times lower) than any adverse health effects that may have been found in any research studies (animal studies included).

ADI's for common artificial sweeteners:
Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal): 50 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight or 15-20 cans of diet soda (depends on brand) or 97 packets
Saccharin (Sweet'N Low, SugarTwin): 15 mg per kg or 8.5 packets of sweetener
Acesulfame K (Sunett, Sweet One): 15 mg per kg or 25 cans of diet soda
Sucralose (Splenda): 5 mg per kg or 5 cans of diet soda
Note: Comparisons based on 150 pound person

Of course, there is a new natural alternative to the artificial sweeteners on the market. I do not mention it above because it is not considered an 'artificial' sweetener because of it's natural origins. Truvia natural sweetener is made from the rebiana, a purified component of the stevia leaf.

For more on all sweeteners, the Calorie Control Council has an excellent, scientifically based information. www.caloriecontrol.org

The International Food Information Council also has a great portion of it's site on sweeteners. Check out this link.
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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