Another Study on Splenda: Mice, Cancer, and Ridiculous Advice

I just came across a blog titled Splenda Possibly Linked to Cancer, New Study Finds. I use Splenda. Daily. So I checked this out. Turns out the study was released in January, six months ago; but it was worth investigating since if it popped up in my Facebook feed, it was probably popping up in others.

In short – mouse study, blood cancers (leukemia), high doses equivalent to 10 cans of soda a day in people, and the CSPI, which has a lovely tool to rate foods, has changed its status to “avoid.

There is a link to the journal article in the blog which give a little more detail for consideration.

  1. The mice started being exposed prenatally. Chances are many little ones probably are also exposed during this stage if their moms use Splenda so let’s move on.
  1. Cancers only manifest in male mice. This is a place to pause. Why only in males? Assuming we can we extrapolate these results out to humans (possibly but not a definite), then do they apply to females? Are only males at risk? This is something that needs more investigation!
  1. The mice were given multiple doses measured in parts per million (ppm). The male mice developed cancer at doses of 2,000 and 16,000 ppm but NOT at 0, 500, or 8,000 ppm. Okay, let’s pause again. If Splenda is the reason for the cancers, we would expect that the higher the dose, the more cancers. So why yes-cancer at 2,000 ppm, but no-cancer at 8,000 ppm, and then yes-cancer again at 16,000 ppm. This is an unexpected result which needs more investigation!

So, file this study away under the developing story of Splenda but this is not the type of study that will lead to a blanket-statement and declare that all people must avoid Splenda! Well, except for the CSPI I guess.

Oh, and I can’t forget my favorite part – the ridiculous part – where the CSPI president is quoted as pointing out “that consuming too much regular sugar carries a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity than the cancer risk posed by artificial sweeteners.” Yet his organization now says to AVOID Splenda and CUT BACK on sugar.

So… let me see if I understand. Yes there is a high risk of big-bads from regular sugar versus low risk of big-bads from alternative sweeteners; soooo avoid the thing with the lower risk? What??? Makes sense to me (NOT!).

I routinely talk to my patients with type 2 diabetes and explain this exact thing. The chances that you will have negative health outcomes (high blood sugar) by using real sugars is pretty much a given unless the dose (amount) and meal composition (what do you eat it with) are pretty well designed. Having high blood sugar over the long-term can have some pretty devastating results (kidney disease, losing toes and vision). Compare that to the chances that you will get cancer from using alternative sweeteners, which is pretty low (unless you are downing a LOT of the stuff!).

What surprises me is that many people choose sugar over the alternatives. Thanks documentary-makers and media celebrities for ruining sugar’s reputation. To be clear, I don’t promote using a LOT of the natural OR the fake stuff – I promote letting your taste buds adjust to LESS sweet flavor in food and using very LITTLE of whichever one you choose.

Good news – it is YOUR decision what to choose.

Me? I’m sticking with my Splenda for now. What about you?

2 thoughts on “Another Study on Splenda: Mice, Cancer, and Ridiculous Advice

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