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What are the Potential Sucralose Dangers?

By Helena Reimer
Updated Jan 30, 2024
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Some of the potential sucralose dangers include reduced amounts of good bacteria in the digestive tract, a weakened immune system and possible weight gain. Studies have revealed that sucralose can cause digestive and pregnancy problems as well as changes in the size of the liver, kidneys and thymus. Few of the studies on sucralose dangers have been done on humans, but the studies that have been done seem to indicate that the health risks are minimal when it is taken in moderation. As a result, this sugar alternative has been deemed safe by several food safety regulating organizations in several countries.

Sucralose is one of the artificial sweeteners that is marketed as a zero-calorie sugar substitute. When compared to other common sugar alternatives, sucralose is sweeter and is able to withstand higher temperatures. It also has a longer shelf life than some other sugar substitutes, so it is often used in baked goods, candies and other processed foods.

The artificial sweetener is chemically produced by replacing three hydroxyl groups with chlorinated atoms within the sugar molecule. This chemical structure is foreign to the body, which means that the body does not know how to absorb it as natural food. Research has shown that about 10-30 percent of the ingested sucralose is absorbed into the body. After the sucralose is absorbed, it potentially can build up in the digestive system, as well as in organs such as the liver and kidneys. In addition, sucralose is only about 98 percent pure, which means the other 2 percent might contain heavy metals, arsenic and other toxins that could harm the body.

Studies on the potential sucralose dangers that have been done on animals have shown an increase in the size of the liver and kidneys, as well as a decrease in growth and in red blood cells. A 40-percent decrease of the thymus was also seen, which could potentially impair or weaken the immune system. The digestive system also was affected, resulting in diarrhea and a lower amount of good bacteria in the digestive system. Longer pregnancies, miscarriages and lower fetal body weights also were noticed during the animal studies.

Most of the sucralose dangers that were observed in the animal studies have not been seen in the studies done on humans. There are, however, reports of individuals experiencing anxiety, digestive problems, headaches, rashes and kidney problems while taking sucralose. Other sucralose dangers include numbness in the body, dizzy spells, joint and muscle pain, as well as stiffness.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon318784 — On Feb 08, 2013

It is ironic to me that a few years ago, all the conspiracy theory, alternative medicine fanatics got all up in arms about recommending splenda rather than sweet ‘n low because it was ‘naturally derived’ (made from sugar). My guess is stevia will take over and, in a few years, people will be blaming that for cancer and everything else wrong with the world and saying that we shouldn’t eat that.

Meanwhile, nobody has an issue with the fact that the government takes our tax dollars to subsidize corn for high fructose corn syrup, which is definitively going to bring our very own children to an early grave. Yes, the government is charging you to kill your children. But, by all means, chasing conspiracy theories and anecdotal evidence to explain ill health sounds like a better use of time and energy. Maybe try microwaving plastic- that one might actually have some data behind it.

I'm not at all a fan of splenda and, in fact, I agree that stevia is probably better for you and look to eat it myself. However, ignoring the fact that we are debating this while swimming in a sea of sugar and high fructose corn syrup foods that are definitively deleterious to our health seems like priorities may be off here. But I know, it’s much cooler to talk about a conspiracy theory- we’re naturally attracted to them and who wants to hear the same old thing: sugar is bad. Haven’t we known that for decades?

So why has the amount of sugar that manufacturers put it in foods increased exponentially in recent decades which may or may not have just happened to coincide with the obesity epidemic? How do we just sit by and take it like a helpless partner with an abusive alcoholic spouse? What’s the point of a democracy if the people don’t rule and we just take what industry gives us? Wait, I forgot, nobody cares. We’d rather just blame everything on splenda. As you were, fanatics.

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