Sucralose, a chemical found in the popular zero-calorie sweetener Splenda, has been shown to cause damage to DNA, raise the risk of cancer and cause leaks in the gut lining, according to a new study from North Carolina State University.
Splenda is used as a sugar substitute in thousands of foods, beverages, desserts and candy. The product contains 1.10% sucralose. It is made by Tate & Lyle in the U.K.
The study, published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, found that a metabolite of sucralose, called sucralose-6-acetate, is “genotoxic.”
“A leaky gut is problematic because it means toxins that would normally be flushed out of the body in feces are instead leaking out of the gut and being absorbed into the bloodstream,” Schiffman told Fox News Digital.
The researchers conducted eight separate experiments to measure the safety and risks of both sucralose and sucralose-6-acetate, which is a chemical byproduct of sucralose and is considered an impurity.
“Consumers have a right to know what they are consuming.”
This isn’t the first research to flag potential dangers related to sucralose.
“Previous studies have shown a wide range of adverse effects from sucralose, including dysbiosis (including damage to good bacteria in the gut) and alteration of blood glucose and insulin,” Schiffman said.
“Consumers have a right to know what they are consuming,” she added.
“Sucralose and other sugar substitutes are also considered ultra-processed foods, which have been linked to increased risk of subsequent cardiovascular events in individuals who have had a heart attack,” Routhenstein added.
Those who are at risk of cardiovascular disease, have cancer or suffer from any inflammatory conditions could be particularly susceptible to risks, the dietitian noted.
“The results of these studies show that these compounds may be associated with significant health effects,” she added.
While the short-term consumption of sucralose and other artificial sweeteners is unlikely to cause harmful side effects, Johnson-Arbor said, this particular study found that sucralose can accumulate in tissues after continued exposure, suggesting that chronic or long-term consumption of the sweetener may be more dangerous than previously thought.
“These compounds may be associated with significant health effects.”
“These results are concerning because they show that such impurities may have significant — or even greater — toxicity than the original compound,” the toxicologist said.
Sweetener industry maintains safety of sucralose
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved sucralose for use in 1998 in 15 food categories. A year later, the agency approved the chemical as a general-purpose sweetener.
After reviewing this latest study from North Carolina State University, the Calorie Control Council in Washington, D.C., defended sucralose as a safe product that has been “extensively tested.”
(Study author Schiffman maintained that “the study was done in human tissue, so it is directly relevant to potential human health issues.”)
Both sucralose and sucralose-6-acetate were shown to cause damage to the “tight junctions” that hold together the intestinal barrier, leading to a “leaky gut.” (iStock)
“For the millions of people who rely on low- and no-calorie sweeteners to help manage body weight and reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and obesity, it is important to know the facts, which is that sucralose has been rigorously studied by scientific and regulatory authorities around the world and is safe to consume,” Rankin added.
“Sucralose has undergone one of the most extensive and thorough testing programs conducted on any food additive in history, resulting in consensus on its safety throughout the global scientific and regulatory community,” the spokesperson added.
Fox News Digital also reached out to Tate & Lyle, the maker of Splenda, but the company had not provided comment by publication time.