You've heard the debates. Maybe you've participated in them. Are artificial sweeteners better or worse than sugars?
Why only use anecdotes for this fight, when it can be backed up by research!
The evidence as it is available today clearly shows a correlation between sugar and health problems. No such correlation exists with artificial sweeteners.
While artificial sweeteners have been attacked as being harmful chemicals it is important to remember that just about everything is a 'chemical' and that many of them are not harmful to use.
Take saccharin, for example. It is one of the oldest artificial sweeteners out there. In the 1980s, the U.S. Congress decided that all products containing saccharin must carry this warning: “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.”
Why did they do this? As Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine explains in The New York Times
; 'a review article published in The Annals of Oncology in 2004 found that "more than 50 studies had been published looking at saccharin in rats. Twenty of these were “one generation” studies, meaning that they did not look at the rats’ offspring. In only one of those studies did huge amounts of saccharin produce cancer, and it was in a type of rat that is frequently infected with a bladder parasite that would leave it susceptible to saccharin-induced bladder cancer." In the two generation studies, where one generation of rats -- and their offspring -- were given saccharin, bladder cancer was more prevalent in the offspring which made many governments around the world react.
Problem is, there is no evidence of this connection in humans. Some rats are more likely to get bladder cancer and studies from several countries found no link between humans, saccharin and bladder cancer (once they accounted for smoking -- which can cause bladder cancer).
Saccharin has been removed from the list of carcinogens but the damage has been done, our ideas cemented.
Things haven't been any better for other artificial sweeteners. Aspartame? When was the last time you heard it discussed as being another other than a devil food?
Aspartame has been linked to rising cancer rates with no real concrete proof. There are lots of other factors that are more likely to have contributed to this rise. People still quote rat/aspartame studies even though they are highly contested.
With the exception of a handful of people with rare conditions, approved artificial sweeteners are not dangerous!
But what about sugar? Before we go on, it is important to note that we are discussing 'added' sugar and not those sugars and carbohydrates that occur naturally in many foods. We are all aware, for example, that added sugars increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. With a greater amount of added sugar in your diet, you can also expect obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
None of these things appear to happen with sweeteners. For links to some of the existing studies, head over to the New York Times.
Do you believe the sweetener bad rep or do you think they are safer than added sugar?
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