Tag Archives: sugar

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?

healthy bread on table

Macronutrients – Those Confusing Carbs!



Carbohydrates come from plant and animal sources. The food groups that contain carbohydrates include grains, fruits, dairy, and vegetables.

There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates (sugar) and complex carbohydrates (starch and fiber).


There are two types of sugars that people typically think of when talking about sugar in the diet. One type is the natural sugars that are found in foods in their natural and whole state. Examples are fructose and sucrose (in fruits) and lactose (in milk). The other type of sugar is the added sugars that are added to foods during processing or created from refining natural foods, Examples are high fructose corn syrup (in many products) or sucrose (refined into table sugar).


Starches are long chains of sugars. Our bodies break down these long chains into simple sugars that our body can absorb to provide us with energy. Many foods that are starchy need to be cooked in order for our bodies to be able to digest them. Examples are potatoes, corn, and grain products such as bread, pasta, and rice.


Fiber is the indigestible part of the plant. Fibers are also long chains of sugars; but the way the chains are held together prevent our bodies from being able to digest them for energy. Fiber is important for health for many reasons. Fiber can be fermented by the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract which promotes colon health. Insoluble fiber helps promote regularity and prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber includes whole grains (the outer bran layer) and the strings in celery. Soluble fiber can help to lower cholesterol and regular blood glucose levels. Soluble fiber includes oats, beans, and citrus fruits.


The functions of carbohydrate include:

– Energy! Carbohydrates currently have a bad reputation; but they are the main and preferred source of energy for the body. Our bodies need carbohydrates to be at our best health.

– Help to lower cholesterol and regulate blood glucose levels (soluble fiber)

– Maintain digestive tract health (fiber)


For a generally healthy adult, the range for carbohydrate intake is set between 45% and 65% of daily calories. A person consuming a 2,000 calorie diet would have a range of 900 – 1,300 calories. Since 1 gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories, this is a range of 225- 325 grams of carbohydrate per day. The minimum number of carbohydrate grams per day is 130 grams to promote good brain function.

Those trying to build muscle should be sure to consume enough carbohydrates to “spare protein” to be used for muscle growth.

Many people restrict carbohydrates due to the belief that “carbs make you fat.” In healthy individuals, carbohydrates trigger insulin and insulin lets the sugar into our body and cells. People mistakenly believe that this always means weight and fat gain. This is not true!

When we eat the appropriate amount of carbohydrates for our bodies, the sugar is used as a fuel source and burned. It is only when we overeat carbohydrates that weight gain results. Carbohydrates do not make you fat. Carbohydrates are an important part of the diet. Without carbohydrates, the body begins to break down fat storage and then body proteins. In extreme cases, metabolism slows drastically and both health and life can be jeopardized.

People with specific health conditions or concerns may need a different amount of carbohydrate in their daily diet or to time the consumption of carbohydrates throughout their day.

Other guidelines:

Whole grains: Consume whole-grain carbohydrates whenever you can. Recommendations are to make half of your grains whole. Read the food label and be sure the first ingredient is listed as a “whole” grain (example: whole wheat, not wheat flour).

Fiber: For those between 19 and 51 years old, females should consume 25 grams and men should consume 38 grams of fiber a day. Those over 51 should consume 21 grams (women) or 30 grams (men) per day. If you are increasing your fiber intake, do it slowly and drink lots of water or you may end up with a bout of constipation!

Added sugar: Limit the amount of added sugar in your diet. Many health risks are associated with added sugars and in general, Americans consume too much added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories (women) or 150 calories (men) of added sugars per day. Most natural sugars are generally not associated with health risks as these are consumed along with fiber which slows down the absorption of sugar and other vitamins, mineral, and phytochemicals which promote optimal health.

Original publication date: October 1, 2012 at http://newmotivationcoaching.blogspot.com.

Reference: Nutrition Concepts and Controveries, 12th ed. by Sizer and Whitney, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1-1133-62818-7.