Myth or Fact: Artificial Sweeteners Can Cause Cancer

You may have heard someone say, “Don’t use sugar substitutes in your water, coffee or food. They can cause cancer.”

There’s been a lot of debate about sugar substitutes. Discussions were prompted by the rise of sugar-infused drinks and foods over recent decades. The reality is no medical studies have found a direct connection between artificial sweeteners and cancer.

In the 1980s, researchers in Europe studied the common artificial sweetener saccharin. The studies found that rates of bladder cancer in rats increased with exposure.

After the study, the Canadian government banned saccharin for use with people. The U.S. issued warnings. Further studies on humans still have found no direct connection. The bans have since been lifted.

Another much-debated sweetener described as causing cancer is aspartame. Questions on its safety arose in the mid-1990s amid a report that it caused brain cancer. Yet, after further analysis, no clear link between the sweetener and brain cancer was found.

There are other reasons other than cancer that you may want to reduce or eliminate your use of artificial sweeteners. They’ve been associated with possible glucose intolerance and increased appetite and sugar cravings in some people.

So moderation is key if you choose to consume them. And remember, water is always the best beverage!

Meet the Author

Kathy Glaaser, MS, RD, CDE is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Aurora Medical Center in Summit, WI.

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The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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