Research has found that a chemical produced when a commonly used sweetener is digested is genotoxic, which means it breaks up DNA. Trace amounts of the chemical are also found in the sweetener, and the result raises concerns about how the sweetener could be playing a role in health issues.
The artificial sweetener examined in the study was sucralose, commonly marketed as Splenda®. Prior studies by the same researchers revealed that a few fat-soluble chemicals are produced in the gut following ingestion of sucralose. One of these chemicals is sucralose-6-acetate.
This study confirmed the genotoxicity of sucralose-6-acetate. It was also revealed that trace amounts of sucralose-6-acetate are also found in sucralose, even before it’s consumed and metabolized.
The European Food Safety Authority has a toxicological limitation for all genotoxic substances of 0.15 daily micrograms per individual. This study indicates that sucralose-6-acetate trace amounts found in a single beverage sweetened with sucralose exceed that limit. And that’s without accounting for the sucralose-6-acetate formed as metabolites following sucralose consumption.
The researchers carried out several in vitro experiments for the study that exposed blood cells to sucralose-6-acetate and then monitored for genotoxicity markers.
They discovered that sucralose-6-acetate essentially broke up DNA in cells that had been exposed to the compound. The researchers also carried out in vitro tests exposing gut tissue to sucralose-6-acetate.
Other research has determined that gut health can be negatively affected by sucralose, so the researchers wanted to explore this further. When gut epithelial tissues were exposed to sucralose and sucralose-6-acetate, the researchers found that both chemical compounds lead to ‘leaky gut’, which essentially makes the gut wall more permeable. The chemical compounds damage the interfaces where the gut wall cells connect to one another.
A leaky gut is a problem because the stuff that would normally have been eliminated in the feces is leaking out of the gut instead and getting absorbed into the bloodstream.
The gut cell genetic activity was also examined to see how the cells reacted to the sucralose-6-acetate.
Increased activity in genes associated with carcinogenicity, inflammation, and oxidative stress was observed in gut cells exposed to sucralose-6-acetate.
This study raises several questions regarding the potential adverse health effects linked to sucralose and its metabolites. Sucralose’s regulatory and safety status should be reassessed because the evidence is increasing that it poses significant health risks.
The researchers encourage individuals to avoid sucralose-containing products. It’s not something we should be consuming.
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