UK Researchers Find Artificial Sweeteners Do Not Cause Cancer

Sucralose, an artificial no-calorie sweetener, does not cause cancer and is safe to ingest, according to UK researchers. 

Low- and no-calorie ingredients are logical choices for those wishing to manage their weight. However, some people have concerns that sucralose may be linked to cancer.

Now, a comprehensive review of studies testing the safety and carcinogenicity of sucralose has confirmed that the artificial sweetener does not cause cancer and is safe to ingest.

"This latest review of sucralose studies should reassure those who choose sucralose and can be particularly useful to scientists and health-care professionals, who may be asked for information on low calorie sweetener safety," said lead author Colin Berry, Professor at the University of London in the UK.

Berry and his fellow researchers conducted a review of studies assessing sucralose carcinogenicity potential, which involves checking whether the substance has the potential to cause cancer.

These studies are designed to maximise the possibility of detecting potentially adverse effects, and as such, adverse outcomes are expected to occur at some point.

To that end, many of the studies observe the results of dosages hundreds to thousands of times greater than any reasonable level of consumption.

For example, the studies reviewed include observations on consumption of sucralose in quantities equivalent in sweetness to 74 to 495 pounds of sugar per day for an average weight (75 kg) adult.

The Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for sucralose, established by the Joint Food and Agricultural Organisation/World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Food Additives, is 0 to 15 mg/kg body weight/day.

In the studies reviewed, even when exposure levels were several orders of magnitude greater than the recommended ADI, sucralose did not demonstrate carcinogenic activity.

"Concerns are raised from time to time on what components of our lifestyle affect the rates of cancer," said Berry.

"Smoking and sunlight are on all our lists and obesity is beginning to be recognised as a major factor. So low calorie sweeteners, which are important to many in managing their weight, need to be examined carefully in terms of lifetime use," he added.

The research appears in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.