A study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health links the artificial sweetener Splenda to an increased risk of leukemia. Splenda, otherwise known as sucralose, was introduced in 1999. It has been marketed as an alternative to sugar as well as other artificial sweeteners.
Researchers conducted the study by feeding various amounts of sucralose to mice. The following amounts of sucralose were fed to 457 male and 396 female mice: 0; 500; 2,000; 8,000 or 16,000 ppm. The mice were fed sucralose from their 12th day of gestation until death.
The study found that the risk of malignant cancer increased with higher amounts of Splenda in male mice. Male mice also had a higher risk of leukemia, particularly at 2,000 ppm and 16,000 ppm. “These findings do not support previous data that sucralose is biologically inert,” the authors wrote. “More studies are necessary to show the safety of sucralose, including new and more adequate carcinogenic bioassay on rats. Considering that millions of people are likely exposed, follow-up studies are urgent.”
Past research regarding artificial sweeteners and cancer have been relatively inconclusive. The findings of a study conducted at the Ramazzini Institute, who also conducted the recent study, prompted food advocates to downgrade Splenda from “safe” to “caution” in 2013.
“And even if you consume less, that doesn’t mean there’s no problem,” said Lisa Lefferts, a scientist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest to EatClean.com. “When something causes cancer at high doses, it generally causes cancer at lower doses, the risk is just smaller.”