The tabletop version, Splenda contains other ingredients and bulking agents that have some side effects and carcinogenic potential and should not be confused with pure sucralose. But for this article we’ll deal with the pure version of Sucralose.
Few human studies of safety have been published on sucralose. One small study of diabetic patients using the sweetener showed a statistically significant increase in glycosylated hemoglobin (Hba1C), which is a marker of long-term blood glucose levels and is used to assess glycemic control in diabetic patients. According to the FDA, “increases in glycosolation in hemoglobin imply lessening of control of diabetes.
Research in animals has shown that sucralose can cause many problems in rats, mice, and rabbits, such as:
- Shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage)
- Enlarged liver and kidneys
- Atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus
- Increased fecal weight
- Reduced growth rate
- Decreased red blood cell count
- Hyperplasia of the pelvis
- Extension of the pregnancy period
- Aborted pregnancy
- Decreased fetal body weights and placental weights
According to one source (Sucralose Toxicity Information Center), concerning the significant reduction in size of the thymus gland, “the manufacturer claimed that the sucralose was unpleasant for the rodents to eat in large doses and that starvation caused the shrunken thymus glands.
Toxicologist Judith Bellin reviewed studies on rats starved under experimental conditions, and concluded that their growth rate could be reduced by as much as a third without the thymus losing a significant amount of weight (less than 7 percent). The changes were much more marked in rats fed on sucralose. While the animals’ growth rate was reduced by between 7 and 20 percent, their thymuses shrank by as much as 40 percent.
(New Scientist 23 Nov 1991, pg 13)”
Sucralose, a high-intensity sweetener, is made from sugar so it tastes like sugar. This is accomplished using a patented multi-step process that selectively replaces three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms. The result is an exceptionally stable sweetener that keeps sugars taste without sugars calories and carbohydrates. After consumption it passes through the body without being metabolized or broken down. Sucralose is approximately six hundred times sweeter than sugar, and as a result, only small amounts are necessary in a product.
Sucralose underwent the FDA’s rigorous food additive approval process, and in 1998, the FDA approved sucralose for use in 15 food and beverage categories, the broadest initial approval ever given to a food additive. The FDA has never required any warning label or information statements on products containing sucralose.
Sucralose has been approved for use in more than 40 countries worldwide. Canada approved sucralose in 1991, Australia and Mexico in 1993. Regulatory agencies have also approved the use of sucralose in Brazil, China, Japan, in various Latin American, Asian, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern countries. In 1990, the safety of sucralose was confirmed by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). JECFA is an international body of experts whose safety evaluation of food additives is relied upon by the regulatory agencies of many smaller countries.