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Risks of Sweeteners: Sucralose under fire

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Risks of Sweeteners: Sucralose under fire

Sucralose, a widely used sweetener found in “light” foods and drinks, is the focus of a new study that raises concerns about its risks. According to the researchers, sucralose could damage DNA and cause leaky gut. This article will explore the findings of this research and provide important information for understanding the potential effects of sucralose on the human body.

Figure 1 – Can a sweetener have harmful effects on our body?

A Problem Sweetener

The American research team, led by scientists from the Joint Departments of Biomedical Engineering of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, conducted an in-depth study on sucralose. The researchers collaborated with experts from the Department of Genetics and Biology and the Durham-based company Sciome LLC to come up with significant results.

According to Professor Susan S. Schiffmann, lead author of the study, sucralose has a metabolite called sucralose-6-acetate that is formed in the intestines when we consume products containing sucralose. This fat-soluble metabolite has been extensively investigated and shown to have genotoxic effects, i.e. it damages DNA. Furthermore, sucralose and its metabolite appear to affect the permeability of the intestine, by compromising the connections of the epithelial cells that line its surface.

Health Risks

The genotoxic effect of sucralose-6-acetate was demonstrated in an in vitro study on human blood cells. The researchers used the MultiFlow assay and the micronucleus (MN) assay to detect genotoxicity and found that sucralose-6-acetate actually broke down DNA in cells exposed to the chemical.

Food regulatory agencies pay particular attention to genotoxicity, as DNA damage can be responsible for serious health problems. According to Professor Schiffmann, the European Food Safety Authority (ESFA) has set a threshold of toxicological concern for genotoxic substances of 0.15 micrograms per person per day. However, trace amounts of sucralose-6-acetate found in some samples, representing up to 0.67 percent of sucralose, appear to exceed this threshold.

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Furthermore, experiments conducted on human intestinal cells have shown increased gene expression of genes associated with oxidative stress, cancer and inflammation. The negative effect of sucralose and its metabolite on the gut is of particular concern, as leaky gut can cause unwanted substances to be released into the bloodstream.

The Recommendations of the Researcher

In the face of these findings, Professor Schiffmann stresses the importance of re-evaluating the safety and regulatory status of sucralose. Although it has already been approved by major regulatory agencies, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and ESFA, the results of this study raise questions about its long-term safety.

The study’s lead author advises people to avoid products containing sucralose. She believes the potential health risks outweigh the benefits of using this sweetener. It’s important to keep in mind that other studies have raised concerns about other sweeteners, too, such as aspartame and erythritol.


Sucralose, a commonly used sweetener, could have damaging effects on DNA and leaky gut. The study conducted by the US research team showed that sucralose-6-acetate, a metabolite of sucralose, has genotoxic properties and can damage DNA. Furthermore, sucralose and its metabolite appear to affect intestinal permeability, impairing intestinal function.

In light of these findings, the safety and regulatory status of sucralose needs to be reevaluated. It is advisable to avoid products that contain this sweetener to reduce potential health risks. It’s important to also pay attention to other sweeteners and the possible health implications they may have.


  • American Heart Association. (2020). Link
  • Sweeteners controversy. Links
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