In the realm of artificial sweeteners, sucralose is a common name. Known for its zero-calorie sweetness, it's a popular choice among those looking to reduce their sugar intake. However, a recent study has made headlines by raising questions about the safety of sucralose, more specifically an impurity known as sucralose-6-acetate.
Layne Norton reviews the study in detail and discusses the findings in his video below.
The Study and its Limitations
The study was conducted in vitro, meaning it was performed on cultured cells in a petri dish. While this method is a standard in preliminary research, it's important to note that it doesn't represent the complexity of the human body. Therefore, any findings must be interpreted with caution.
Unfortunately, the media has already blown everything out of proportion by misrepresenting the findings in scary published news headlines:
Some of these headlines not only misrepresent the study findings, but misrepresent sucralose entirely by implying that sucralose is the same compound as sucralose-6-acetate.
Sucralose-6-Acetate: A Cause for Concern?
The study found that sucralose-6-acetate (a chemical impurity in the production of sucralose, which ideally should not be present in the final product) has the potential to break apart DNA. This property, known as genotoxicity, was observed only at the three highest doses of sucralose. Interestingly, the lowest dose that caused DNA damage was 900 times greater than the concentration found in the body after consuming a drink containing sucralose.
One thing to keep in mind, as Layne points out in his video, is that MANY things are toxic when applied to isolated cells in a petri dish. For example, glutamate, an amino acid found in any protein source, is neurotoxic in vitro.
Does this mean that eating chicken or fish is "toxic" to our bodies? Of course not. This is a great example of why in vitro studies have serious limitations, especially when attempting to draw conclusions that are applicable to real life.
In the internet age, it's easy to get swept up in headlines and news reports. However, we shouldn't blindly accept these reports without considering the veracity of the study and the motivations of the news organization reporting it. It's always important to critically evaluate the information presented and, if possible, read the full study before forming an opinion.
Reading and interpreting studies is difficult for the average consumer, so that's why we spend a lot of time and energy breaking them down for you!
- This study looked at sucralose-6-acetate, which is an impurity of sucralose (not sucralose itself).
- This study was done in a petri dish, which doesn't provide much valuable data when it comes to the human body as a whole.
- The concentrations of sucralose-6-acetate needed to induce genotoxicity equated to about 900x the concentration of sucralose that can be achieved in response to 1-4 servings of sucralose at a time. Further, that still doesn't take into consideration the fact that sucralose-6-acetate is an impurity and will not be present in a 1:1 ratio with sucralose or even close.
- All the concentrations lower than this amount did not induce genotoxicity.
- Ultimately, all the current human data we have on artificial sweeteners indicates they are safe. The FDA established acceptable daily intake (ADI) for sucralose is 5mg per kg of bodyweight per day. This is equivalent to about 23 packets of Splenda per day for a 132lb person, or 35 packets per day for a 200lb person.
Check out Layne's breakdown of the study in the video below:
2. Choi, D W et al. “Glutamate neurotoxicity in cortical cell culture.” The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience vol. 7,2 (1987): 357-68. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.07-02-00357.1987