The artificial sweetener sucralose (sold as Splenda) is commonly used and is found in products such as diet sodas and chewing gum. It can also damage the DNA material inside our cells, according to a new study. This is a serious problem that can lead to many health problems, as DNA contains the genetic code that controls how our bodies grow and are maintained.
The researchers’ concerns are so serious that they are now urging food standards bodies to review the sweetener’s safety and regulatory status.
The technical term for something that destroys DNA in this way is genotoxic, and the study looked specifically at sucralose-6-acetate. This chemical compound is formed and metabolized in the body when sucralose enters the body, as reported in a 2018 study in rats.
“To put this into context, the European Food Safety Agency has set a threshold of toxicological concern of 0.15 micrograms per person per day for all genotoxic substances,” says biomedical engineer Susan Schiffman of North Carolina State University.
“Our study shows that trace amounts of sucralose-6-acetate in a daily sucralose-sweetened beverage exceed this threshold. And that doesn’t even take into account the amount of sucralose-6-acetate that forms as metabolites after people consume sucralose.”
So sucralose-6-acetate is already present in these drinks before being consumed, but even more is produced in our stomach. Sucralose is actually made from a modified version of sucralose-6-acetate, which is synthesized from the sugar sucrose.
In the study, the researchers performed a series of laboratory tests on human blood cells and intestinal wall tissue to see the response to both sucralose and sucralose-6-acetate. Tests for the genetic activity of intestinal cells were also performed using standard testing procedures to detect DNA damage.
The tests confirmed mechanisms that were genotoxic and clastogenic (breaking of DNA chains), and also showed increased expression of genes associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, and cancer. In addition, the intestinal mucosa is damaged.
“We found that the chemicals sucrose and sucralose-6-acetate cause ‘leaky gut,'” says Schiffman.
“They actually make the gut wall more permeable. The chemicals damage the “tight junctions,” or interfaces in the gut wall where cells connect to each other.
A leaky gut means that partially digested food and toxins can leak into the bloodstream. It can cause disease in many ways and can have other effects on different parts of the body.
The researchers behind the new study warn that people should stop taking sucralose and eat anything that contains it. The sweetener was previously approved by regulators based on studies showing it passes through the body unchanged – findings currently contradicting the latest research.
Now, the regulator’s permission may need to be reviewed. The researchers suggest that further studies could take a closer look at the potentially dangerous health effects of sucralose-6-acetate.
“This study raises many concerns about the potential health effects of sucralose and its metabolites,” says Schiffman. “As there is growing evidence that it carries significant risks, it is time to review the safety and regulatory status of sucralose.” Study published Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B.
Source: Port Altele