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Sucralose may have several side-effects.
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Marketed as a вЂњgreat choice for everyoneвЂ¦ to live a little healthier,вЂќ Splenda, or sucralose, is a zero-calorie sweetener found in more than 4,000 food products. This sweetener, released for consumption in the late 1990s, is over 600 times sweeter than table sugar. Though the product has been well received due to its many safety claims, some studies have shown problems for both people and the environment.
A Link to Migranes
While the exact mechanism is not clear, migraines have been linked to sucralose. Though this is not a consistent side-effect, physicians have been urged to be mindful of the trigger and obtain a diet record when treating patients with migraines. A case report published in "Headache" documented migraines consistently triggered by sucralose intake. Once the patient removed sucralose from the diet, the headaches resolved; after the patient was unknowingly given Splenda instead of sugar, the headaches returned.
Researchers from Duke University found that sucralose could alter beneficial intestinal bacteria in rats that were tested. The gut -- called the second brain -- regulates the immune system, and altering its environment can lead to medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease and allergies. According to a study published in "Mutation Research," among 39 food additives examined in a study using mice, sucralose caused intestinal DNA damage that could potentially lead to chronic GI disorders; scientists said further study was warranted.
Zero-Calorie Weight Gain
Long-term studies have also found that people who drank diet drinks over several years had dramatically larger waistlines, a risk factor for type-2 diabetes. According to "Neuroscience," artificial sweeteners such as sucralose do not activate the food reward pathways like natural sweeteners. By eliminating the caloric component of food, the brain cannot turn on the satiety signals, leaving the body hungry.
A 2013 study conducted by Italian researchers found that rats given sucralose over their lifetime had a higher incidence of leukemia than those that were not. The results caused the researchers to urge more studies on this issue and the Center for Science in Public Interest to downgrade sucralose's rating from вЂњsafeвЂќ to вЂњcaution." Additionally, sucralose has been found to be a mutagen, a substance that causes DNA mutations. Up to 90 percent of mutagens can contribute to cancer development because mutations can cause a normal cell to evolve into rapidly dividing cancerous cells.
Researchers are beginning to examine the impact of excreted sucralose in the environment since it can accumulate over time. According to "Environmental Engineering Science," a study in 2011 found that the compound did not get filtered or degraded through traditional water filtering systems and has since been found in municipal drinking water, oceans, streams and lakes. While so far it appears nontoxic to plants and aquatic animals, researchers agree long-term exposure could have unknown health consequences for humans and animals alike.