Whole Foods and Your Health, Part 7: Saccharin

       A. Additives
             1. MSG
             2. Preservatives
                 a. BHA and BHT
                 b. Aluminum
                 c. Nitrates and Nitrites
            3. Food Coloring
            4. Sweeteners
                 a. High Fructose Corn Syrup
                 b. Sugar
                 c. Artificial Sweeteners
                      1. Saccharin

I’ve talked about High Fructose Corn Syrup and sugar and just how much Americans consume in a year. But there are also artificial sweeteners competing for the spotlight. We’ve heard many things about artificial sweeteners over the years, both good and bad. We’ve heard that they are healthy; they help you lose weight and they don’t raise your blood sugar. We’ve heard they cause cancer. So what is true and what isn’t?

When I was pregnant with Bella, my doctor told me to stay away from artificial sweeteners. I agreed, and didn’t think any more about it… until I researched the sweeteners.

Saccharin was discovered in 1879 at Johns Hopkins University. It is seen as an excellent alternative to sugar because it contains no calories. Diabetics can use saccharin without worry; saccharin does not have the same effect on blood glucose levels as sugar does. Saccharin.org states,

Indeed, the future looks bright for saccharin. With the growing popularity of light foods and beverages, saccharin will continue to have a significant role. All of which confirms that although it is the world’s oldest artificial sweetener, it still has plenty of “new” in it, even after all these years.

Is saccharin safe?

After a study conducted by D. L. Arnold and published in 1977, the FDA proposed a ban on saccharin. The study showed cancerous tumors in male lab rats who had consumed saccharin. The US Congress denied the ban and allowed saccharin to remain on the market with one condition: the packaging had to state that saccharin may be hazardous to health. In 2000, saccharine was cleared from the list of potential carcinogens. The National Cancer Institute states:

Results from subsequent carcinogenicity studies (studies that examine whether a substance can cause cancer) of these sweeteners have not provided clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans.

The effects of saccharin include diarrhea, diuresis, eczema, nausea, hives, and headaches. Saccharin is also linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity; it is a suspected mutagen and carcinogen.

Do humans experience the same side effects as rats and mice? I will soon post on this very subject, “Cancer in Lab Rats linked to Cancer in Humans?

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