Effects of Artificial Sweeteners

effects of artificial sweetenersThe use of artificial sweeteners is very popular nowadays. They are a common ingredient in diet drinks because they are void of calories making them good for preventing weight gain. There are several different kinds of artificial sweeteners some of which I add on occasion to my drinks so I know from experience that they can make them much more palatable and enjoyable but there is a lot of concern over how safe they are to use.


Sucralose is currently one of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners. It is the main ingredient in Splenda and is actually made from real sugar. Sucralose is a zero calorie substitute for sugar making it helpful for the purpose of weight loss which is great so long as it’s safe.


Based on the research I’ve done most of the studies that have looked into the safety of sucralose involved animal testing and found that sucralose causes minor to no adverse health effects. One study done by McNeil Specialty Company found that when rats consumed sucralose many of them tolerated it well but some eventually developed kidney issues.

Researchers in the UK did a series of tests to see if sucralose caused any adverse effects in humans. One of the tests that they did was to feed a group of people daily doses of sucralose over the course of 12 weeks.

  • For the first 3 weeks they were fed 125 mg of sucralose a day.
  • They were then fed 250 mg of sucralose a day for the next 4 weeks.
  • For the last 5 weeks they were fed 500 mg of sucralose a day.

Several tests were done on these subjects including blood and urine tests and scientists were unable to find any way that sucrose adversely affected their bodies. They even did an EKG test to see if there were any changes in heart function but there were no detectable changes. This study suggests that in humans sucralose is well tolerated.


Equal is another widely used artificial sweetener. If you’ve ever been to a restaurant you’ve probably seen it sitting on the table with the other sweeteners. The main ingredient in equal is aspartame which has been studied quite a bit in animals and some of these studies have linked aspartame to cancer.


A study done at the Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center used 6 groups of 62 to122 mice who were given doses of aspartame over the course of their entire lives starting from the time they were still in their mother’s womb.

What they found was that in male rats, aspartame increased the chances of developing liver and lung cancer. Even though this study was done on rats it suggests that consuming aspartame over the course of a lifetime could possibly increase the chances of developing some cancers.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute designed a study to see if aspartame increased the chances of developing cancer that affects the blood or brain in humans.

  • They surveyed 285,079 men and 188,905 women between the ages of 50 and 71 years to get an idea of how many aspartame containing foods and beverages they consumed over the past year and also looked over data on incidences cancer provided by the state.
  • After going over the data, researchers were not able to see a connection between aspartame consumption and cancer of the blood or brain.

This study suggests that in humans there isn’t a strong connection between aspartame and at least some forms of cancer.


Stevia is another popular zero calorie sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant and a lot of people are attracted to stevia because it is natural. A study done at the University of São Paulo looked at how consuming stevia affected young male rats. These rats were given stevia for 60 days and what they found was that in these young male rats there was a decrease in the weight of their testis as well as a decrease in testosterone levels. This suggests a possible adverse effect that stevia has on males and their reproductive systems.


Based on the research that has come out I think it is hard to say whether or not artificial sweeteners are completely safe. I personally feel most comfortable with sucralose because there seems to have been a fair amount of research done on it. It seems to me that when it comes to equal and stevia there doesn’t seem to have been very much research done on humans to know how it affects us in the long term. I feel they are probably safe in low doses but more research is needed to know for curtain.

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