Though artificial sweeteners were developed with the intention of providing a safe and healthy alternative to natural sugars, many artificial sweeteners have been cited as anything but safe. Though all sugar substitutes on the market have been approved for use by the FDA, there have still been numerous consumer complaints which have created the need for ongoing independent testing and research. Here are some of the leading complaints of artificial sweeteners:
#1: Bladder Cancer
An ongoing disease related to artificial sweeteners since their inception in the 1960s is bladder cancer. It has been linked to both the consumption of saccharin and cyclamate, though lab tests have disputed any correlation. At one time the FDA even mandated warning labels on the artificial sweeteners in question, but these warnings have since been removed after additional testing showed no discernible link. This has led many nutritionists to agree that saccharin and cyclamate should be consumed only in moderation.
#2: Liver Disease
Liver disease is a very serious condition that can have life altering consequences, therefore, anyone who is suffering from liver disease should steer clear of all products containing aspartame. The chemical can cause a serious reaction in the body. Care should be taken to read labels to ensure that there is no aspartame in the product before consumption.
Though many of the sweeteners on the market are safe, most health care providers working with pregnant women advise against using artificial sweeteners while pregnant. This is because not enough research has been done. Though the use may generally be considered safe in moderation, it is difficult to measure exactly how much is safe and what the effects of the sweeteners are on an unborn child. For these reasons, if you are pregnant, avoid using artificial sweeteners or take extreme caution and use them only in very light moderation.
#4: Headaches, Bloating and Abdominal Pains
There have been wide ranging reactions from different people to artificial sweeteners, including headaches ranging from mild to severe, abdominal bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. Because everyone’s body reacts differently to food and food additives it is difficult to determine if these symptoms are directly related and whether or not they pose a long term health risk. Many people, however, do stop using artificial sweeteners after experiencing discomfort and linking the problem to the artificial sweeteners in their diet.
Artificial sweeteners are considered safe by the FDA, however, their use should always be in moderation. They do contain fewer calories than sugar, but are not a calorie-free food, so overindulgence can still be a problem. These sweeteners can help satisfy a sweet tooth, but be sure to keep an eye on the calories to ensure that you are not exceeding your caloric intake limits on something that you would think of as “diet” food.