splenda, diarrhea, chlorine, DNA damage

Ask the Doc: Splenda

Ask the Doc: Splenda

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of America.com
What is your opinion of the new sweetener, Splenda®? K. T.

Dear K. T.: The number of products using sucralose (Splenda®) as a sweetener is increasing rapidly. Sucralose is created by replacing three of the hydrogen/oxygen complexes on sucrose (table sugar) with chlorine. Some refer to it as chlorinated sugar.

The purported advantages of sucralose are that it is less likely than sucrose to promote tooth decay, that it is only 20 to 30 percent absorbable with the rest passing out of the body in the stool, that it does not cause a rise in blood sugar levels, and that it does not provide a significant number of calories.

Sucralose has been heralded as a safe non-caloric sweetener without the potential to cause cancer or birth defects. Some initial studies caused concern that it might interfere with the body’s immune function, but additional studies have not confirmed this.

It appears that sucralose is significantly safer than aspartame, which it is rapidly replacing as the diet sweetener of choice. Its primary adverse effects appear to be diarrhea in some individuals and reactions in people who are sensitive to chlorine. Some have reported symptoms similar to food poisoning with vomiting and diarrhea after consuming moderate amounts. A few people have reported increases in muscle or joint pain after consuming products containing sucralose.

I have lived through the withdrawal of cyclamates, the addition of warning labels to saccharin, & reports of seizures and multiple sclerosis-like symptoms with aspartame. All were introduced as safe, non-toxic, alternatives to sugar. Problems were identified only after they had been in use for a period of time. In the case of aspartame problems began to come to light only after years of common usage.

Japanese researchers reported last August that sucralose induced DNA damage in the gastrointestinal organs of animals tested. This is contrary to the safety reports leading to the release of sucralose. Post-marketing studies were the first to show problems with cyclamates and saccharin, and it appears that this pattern is being repeated with sucralose.

Unless you find that you are sensitive to the product, occasional consumption should not cause irreparable harm. I do not recommend routine sucralose use, however. Natural, unrefined sweeteners such as honey or brown rice syrup are better choices. -Dr. Peterson

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