Artificial Sweeteners: Do They Do More Harm Than Good?

Artificial sweeteners have been swathed in controversy ever since a chemist accidentally created saccharin in 1879. A lot of the hullabaloo has been focused on links between the sweet stuff and cancer, studies in the 1970s suggesting it causes tumors in lab rats.

Those claims were later debunked, and saccharin (Sweet ’N Low) continues to have the blessing of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with four other artificial sweeteners: aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame (Sweet One), and neotame (Newtame).

Occasional studies persist in linking some of these sweeteners with cancer, but many others and the general consensus of the scientific community insist there is no connection between the sweeteners and any form of cancer when consumed in normal amounts.

Still, some experts note that fake sweeteners have been linked to other obesity, diabetes, and other problems and say it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“While chemicals added to our diet are not invariably harmful, they do invariably take us outside the bounds of natural foods to which we are natively adapted,” notes Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. “That raises the possibility of harm and invites precaution.”