Artificial sweetener sucralose – marketed under the brand name Splenda, might not be harmless, a new study in Italy has confirmed.
Research at the Ramazzini Institute had revealed that Splenda substantially increased the risk of leukemia and other cancers.
Splenda was introduced in 1990s as an alternative to white sugar and other artificial sweeteners that had been linked to health issues. It was downgraded in 2013, from a "safe" to "caution" standing due to earlier research also from the Ramazzini Institute.
According to researchers who published the new study in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, they gave 457 male mice, along with 396 female mice, different levels of sucralose. Sucralose was added to their food from 12 days of gestation until they died.
The team noted an overall increased rate of malignant cancer in male mice with increased amounts of Splenda in the diets. The researchers found a substantially higher incidence of leukemia in the male rodents with sucralose levels reaching 2,000 to 16,000 ppm.
The authors said, the results failed to support previous findings that sucralose remained "biologically inert."
"More studies are necessary to show the safety of sucralose, including new and more adequate carcinogenic bioassay on rats," they wrote, and called for follow-up studies in view of the sucralose intake of millions worldwide.
Meanwhile, according to Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) scientist Lisa Lefferts, when something caused cancer at high doses, it generally also caused cancer at lower doses, and the risk is just smaller.
While the study dealt with mice, not humans, it showed that Splenda was not as 'biologically inert' as previously thought. Along with a host of data as regards increased obesity risk, increased insulin resistance and with numerous nasty side effects, the science was now showing that Splenda was something unlikely to be fit for human consumption, according to commentators.