by E. Huff
December 17, 2009
Scientists from Brigham and Women's
Hospital in Boston have revealed results from a study outlining
some of the effects of artificial sweeteners on the body. Conducted
on a group of 3,000 women, the results indicated that those who
drank two or more artificially-sweetened beverages a day doubled
their risk of more-rapid-than-normal kidney function decline.
The study accounted for various other risk factors including the
woman's age, her blood pressure, if she smoked, and if she had any
other pre-existing conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. The
11-year study evaluated the effects of all sweetened drinks on
progressive kidney decline and discovered that two or more diet
drinks leads to a two-fold increase in rapid kidney decline
Though study results did not show any correlation between sugar- or
corn syrup-sweetened drinks and the onset of rapid kidney decline,
these ingredients are implicated in causing diabetes and obesity and
should not be perceived as safe merely because they did not have a
direct correlation in this particular study topic.
High sodium intake was also implicated in the study as promoting
progressive kidney decline. Since diet soda contains excessive
amounts of sodium, higher than sugar soda, it is no surprise that
diet sodas were the primary offenders in the study.
However it is unclear from this
particular study which ingredient plays the larger role in
progressive kidney decline, the artificial sweeteners or the sodium
When aspartame was first approved in the 1970s under the name "NutraSweet",
studies were submitted as supposed proof that the artificial
chemical was safe.
The FDA initially approved the
chemical in 1974 for use in a limited number of foods based upon the
studies submitted by
G.D. Searle Co.,
the company that invented aspartame.
Following a discovery made shortly thereafter by a research
psychiatrist who found that aspartic acid, a primary ingredient in
aspartame, caused holes to form in the brains of mice, the FDA
decided to form its own internal task force to investigate the
initial claims made by the Searle Co.
What the agency discovered was a series of falsified claims,
compromised study results, and missing information. The claims made
in favor of aspartame were so dubious and the evidence so faulty
that the FDA decreed that a grand jury should investigate Searle
Unfortunately, the case failed to move
forward when U.S. Attorney Thomas Sullivan and Assistant U.S.
Attorney William Conlon failed to initiate any legal action.
Conlon was later hired by the law firm that represented Searle Co.
Investigation revealed that aspartame had caused,
...in many of the studies.
All negative findings had been altered
or scrubbed from the final reports delivered to the FDA when
aspartame was first reviewed. Time and time again the question over
whether aspartame is safe has led to investigations that never go
Studies are continually released in
support of the chemical's safety even though they fail to address
the results of other studies that show it to be harmful.
A study published in the January, 2008 issue of the Journal of
Toxicology and Environmental Health revealed that the newer
Splenda), alters gut microflora
and inhibits the assimilation of dietary nutrients.
Commonly marketed as being "made from sugar", sucralose had
undergone no long-term human studies to verify its safety in humans.
Like aspartame, initial studies revealed negative reactions by lab
animals on whom it was tested, indicating that there could be the
same potential problems in humans.
The EU Food Commission, Canadian health officials, and the U.S. FDA
all rejected the initial studies submitted by McNeil Nutritionals,
the marketers of sucralose, because of the negative results.
However they encouraged the company to continue researching until
they "got it right".
McNeil simply lowered the levels of
sucralose used in their studies until an acceptable limit was
After several tries, sucralose was
Stevia, a safe
A great many varieties of artificial sweeteners have been approved,
many scandalously, despite the fact that safe, natural alternatives
Stevia, for instance, is a sweet
herb from South America that is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Claiming inadequate safety research, the FDA has long refused the
herb from being included on the "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS)
Up until last year, all forms of stevia could only be sold as
dietary supplements. The extract could not be labeled as a
"sweetener" and it could not be included in any food items.
Once the parent companies of both Pepsi and Coca-Cola discovered how
to manipulate and patent a segment of stevia, however, it
"suddenly" became safe to use as a sweetener and is now sold on
grocery store shelves in packets similar to the artificial
The FDA reluctantly added the natural
stevia extract to the GRAS list as well.
natural and unprocessed
When it comes to health, a person's best bet is to avoid artificial
sweeteners altogether. There are plenty of preferable, safe
alternatives such as stevia which will allow for a little
extra sweetness without all the harmful side effects.