As you may know, I’m part of a cadre of scientists devoted to helping maintain a modicum of scientific integrity on the internet. “Help Stop Webaloney” is my passionate plea, and I really think things are getting better as more and more people stop to question the validity of information before they forward it to their entire mailing list.
But fear-mongering continues, for reasons that I have described in previous posts. Basically, weare hard-wired to avoid danger. So if I want to sell you something or just feel important, I only have to convince you that I have information about a hidden danger.
This has created, among other things – sucralophobia; the irrational fear of an artificial sweetener that is harmless, probably beneficial and essentially inert.
I should mention right away that I am not promoting sucralose. In fact, I think the addiction to sweet tastes, whether from natural or artificial sources is a major health issue, and that one of the best things you can do for your health is to avoid foods that taste intensely sweet.
At the same time, however, I am promoting scientific integrity. And I want to expose the fear-mongers who continue to fill my FaceBook news feed with utter nonsense. Most recent is the claim that cooking or baking with sucralose produces dioxin, a well-known toxin.
In order for this tooccur, sucralose had to be heated at or above 662° F. It had to be heated in the presence of metal catalysts like rust (Fe2O3).
Shujun Dong,Guorui Liu, Jicheng Hu, and Minghui Zhenga. Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxinsand dibenzofurans formed from sucralose at high temperatures. Sci Rep. 2013; 3:2946. Published online Oct 15,2013. doi: 10.1038/srep02946
So the take-home message here is that a chemical compound heated above 660° catalyzed by ferric oxide can be transformed to other chemical compounds. A relevant question might be, can you name ANY compound that does not undergo chemical changes when exposed to high heat in the presence of a chemical catalyst?
In other words, this is not alarming news. It’s not even interesting news, as evidenced by the statement in the Results section of the study:
“No significant amounts of [toxins] were detected when sucralose was heated in the presence of the metal oxides at 300°C.”
300° C converts to 572° Fahrenheit, which exceeds the heating capacity of most household ovens. BUT instead of announcing that sucralose is stable at normal cooking temperatures, the fear-mongers jumped on this study. Sayer Ji, founder of Green Med Info, headlines his article: Baking with Sucralose releases Dioxin. Alongside is a typical graphic of a skull and crossbones next to a blueberry muffin, emblazoned with the statement, in red:Sucralose + Heat = Dioxin.
This is unconscionable. The masthead motto of Mr Ji’s organization is: Education Equals Empowerment, so what would misinformation equal? How about confusion and anxiety?
It Gets Worse
A Facebook poster from Green Med Info this week announces:
Splenda Found To Have Possible Neurotoxic Properties In Animal Study. It referred to an experiment where water fleas were exposed to high concentrations of sucralose. The researchers referred to these as “environmentally relevant levels,” and stated that sucralose is “frequently found in recipient waters at concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 1.0 g L.”
Ann-Kristin ErikssonWiklund, Margaretha Adolfsson-Erici, Birgitta Liewenborg, Elena Gorokhova. Sucralose Induces Biochemical Responses in Daphnia magna. PLoS One. 2014; 9(4): e92771.Apr 3, 2014. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092771
One gram per liter would certainly be relevant, because that is similar to the concentration used in the experiment. But when I went to their referenced study, I found something remarkably different. Here is the actual data from their reference:
“The analysis of 120 river surface water samples from 27 European countries showed that sucralose, which is in use in Europe since beginning 2005, can be found in the aquatic environment, at concentrations up to 1 microg/L.”
Loos R1, GawlikBM, et al. Sucralose screening in European surface waters using a solid-phase extraction-liquid chromatography-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry method.J Chromatogr A. 2009 Feb 13;1216(7):1126-31. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2008.12.048.
In other words, theauthors of this research paper were off by 6 orders of magnitude. And the fear-mongers exaggerated the danger-literally – by a million times.
It doesn’t surprise me that the folks at Green Med Info missed this. They were only looking for evidence to support their “sky-is-falling” diatribe. But what about the peer review committee that supposedly examined this paper and approved it for publication? This demonstrates a depth of negligence or gross exaggeration that mirrors all the other canards promoted by the fear-mongers.
Note that fear-mongers generate a false authenticity by referring to each other. ThusMercola.com frequently references Green Med Info, even though that site is loaded with misinformation and folly.
II. Webaloney: Sucralose increases risk for diabetes
Sucralose has been tested by various research groups for over a decade demonstrating beneficial results. Then one study was published showing a possible adverse effect. This set off a frenzy on Mercola.com and Green MedInfo. Let’s look carefully at the research:
Pepino MY, Tiemann CD, Patterson BW, Wice BM, Klein S. Sucralose Affects Glycemic and Hormonal Responses to an Oral Glucose Load. Diabetes Care.2013 Apr 30.
In this study, investigators gave sucralose (the equivalent of 5 packets of Splenda™) or water to very obese subjects; then gave them 75 GRAMS of sugar (as part of an obsolete, essentially worthless test known as the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT).
You know those packets of sugar on restaurant tables? Those are one gram packets. These unfortunate subjects had to consume the equivalent of 75 of those packets over the course of FIVE minutes. The results of such a bizarre “study” demonstrate nothing.
Any reasonable person would say, “Gee, wouldn’t it have been easier and more relevant to give the subjects a normal amount of sucralose and measure their glucose and insulin response?” Oh,wait. That’s already been done – a dozen times.
None of the research I am about to show you was paid for or involved the manufacturer of sucralose. You have to know that this compound has been exhaustively researched all over the world, resulting in its universal approval. 83 nations have now approved sucralose without any cautions or warnings.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition measured the insulin and glucose response of sucralose (the equivalent of 6 packets of Splenda) compared to glucose and other sweet compounds.
Wu T, Zhao BR, Bound MJ, et al. Effects of different sweet preloads on incretin hormone secretion, gastric emptying, and postprandial glycemia in healthy humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Jan;95(1):78-83. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.021543.
Both glucose and 3OMG stimulated GLP-1 and GIP release in advance of the meal,whereas sucralose did not. The overall postprandial GLP-1 response was greater after glucose, 3OMG, and TIMthan after sucralose. The blood glucose and insulin responses in the first30 min after the meal were greatest after glucose. Gastric emptying was slower after both 3OMG and TIM than after sucralose.
In healthy humans, SGLT1 substrates stimulateGLP-1 and GIP and slow gastric emptying, regardless of whether they are metabolized, whereas the artificial sweetener sucralose does not. These observationshave the potential to optimize the use of preloads for glycemic control.
Translation: Sucralose is potentially beneficialfor diabetics.
Want more? Here’s a study, comparing the glucose and insulin response of table sugar (sucrose) and a massive dose of sucralose (equivalent to 80 packets of Splenda).
Ma J, Bellon M, Wishart JM, et al. Effect of the artificial sweetener, sucralose, on gastric emptying and incretin hormone release in healthy subjects. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2009 Apr;296(4):G735-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.90708.2008.
Blood glucose increased only in response tosucrose. GLP-1, GIP, and insulin also increased after sucrose but not after either load of sucralose or saline. We conclude that sucralose does not stimulate insulin, GLP-1, or GIP release or slow gastric emptying in healthy humans.
BrownAW, Bohan Brown MM, Onken KL, Beitz DC. Short-term consumption of sucralose, a nonnutritive sweetener, is similar to water with regard to select markers of hunger signaling and short-term glucose homeostasis in women. Nutr Res. 2011Dec;31(12):882-8. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2011.10.004.
Sucralose appears to be an inert nonnutritive sweetener with regard to hunger signaling and short-term glucose homeostasis.
And this study just published with athletes:
Stellingwerff T, Godin JP, et al. Effectsof Pre-Exercise Sucralose Ingestion on Carbohydrate Oxidation During Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2013 May 20.
Blood glucose, plasma insulin and lactate, CHO and fat substrate utilization, heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion, and gastro-intestinal symptoms did not differ between conditions. Our data suggest that consumption of non-caloric sweeteners in the immediate period prior to exercise does not lead to a significant increase in carbohydrate oxidation during exercise.
How about three more?
Grotz, VL; Henry, RR; McGill, JB; Prince, MJ; Shamoon, H; Trout, JR; Pi-Sunyer,FX (2003). Lack of effect of sucralose on glucose homeostasis in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 103(12): 1607–12.
FAP 7A3987, August 16, 1996. pp. 1–357. A 12-week study of the effect of sucralose on glucose homeostasis and HbA1c in normal healthy volunteers, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. FDA
Reyna NY, Cano C, BermudezVJ, et al. Sweeteners and beta-glucans improve metabolic and anthropometrics variables in well controlled type 2 diabetic patients. Am J Ther. 2003Nov-Dec;10(6):438-43.
III. Webaloney: the claim that sucralose (because of the sweet taste) stimulates appetite so you eat more and this promotes obesity.
Fact: It does not:
From the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition – a human clinical trial with a hefty dose of sucralose:
“Oral stimulation with sucralose had no effecton GLP-1, insulin or appetite.”
Ford, HE; Peters, V, et al. (2011Apr). Effects of oral ingestion of sucralose on gut hormone response and appetite in healthy normal-weight subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 65 (4): 508–13.
In Fact: Sucralose (when combined with protein) increases satiety (hunger satisfaction) hormones.
GeraedtsMC, Troost FJ, Saris WH. Addition of sucralose enhances the release of satiety hormones in combination with pea protein. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2012Mar;56(3):417-24. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100297.
IV. WEBALONEY: Sucralose alters gut flora which may have adverse effects.
The main problem with this study at Duke University is that they didn’teven test sucralose. They force-fed a massive dose of Splenda to rats. Splenda is 99% Maltodextrin, and we already knew that feeding massive doses of maltodextrin to rodents causes changes in gut flora. The study is irrelevant and was soundly debunked the following month by a team of independent experts that included Xavier Pi-Sunyer,considered one of the world’s leading nutritional biochemists.
Brusick D, Borzelleca JF, Gallo M,Williams G, Kille J, Wallace Hayes A, Xavier Pi-Sunyer F, Williams C, Burks W.
Expert Panel report on a study of Splenda in male rats. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2009 Jun 28.
The end to this canard can also be found at debunkosaurus,a useful site for healthy skeptics
In addition, massive doses of sucralose have been fed to rats for long periods of time, demonstrating no alteration of gut microflora. When sucralose comprised 3% of the total diet, (human equivalent: over a hundred grams) for 18 months, testing showed that the material is excreted essentially unchanged. Here is a quote from the summary:
“Rats which had been given high concentrations of sucralose (3%) in the diet for more than 18 months showed a similar metabolic profile to controls, demonstrating that metabolic adaptation of the gut microflora or mammalian enzymes had not occurred.
REFERENCE: Sims J, Roberts A, Daniel JW, Renwick AG. Themetabolic fate of sucralose in rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2000;38 Suppl2:S115-21.
V. WEBALONEY: Sucralose accumulates in the body
Sucralose is biologically inert and is not absorbed by the human body. This has been proven in studies where virtually all ingested sucralose has been recovered in the feces and urine; 97% unchanged and the remaining 3% removed by a process known as glucoronidation.
RobertsA1, Renwick AG, Sims J, Snodin DJ. Sucralose metabolism and pharmacokinetics in man. Food Chem Toxicol. 2000;38 Suppl 2:S31-41.
And yet, website authors continue to state the opposite. From Mercola.com:
“If you look at the research (which is primarily extrapolated from animal studies) you will see that in fact 15% of sucralose is absorbed into your digestive system and ultimately is stored in your body.”
Found on 05-14-14 at:
And again, long after excretion and safety data was available:
“Bioaccumulation. One 2009 study found unmistakable evidence that Splenda is absorbed by body fat, contrary to previous claims.”
Found on 05-14-14 at:
When you click on this link, you are NOT brought to a published study, but to yet another unprofessional diatribe. Mercola.com has absolutely no evidence to support this bizarre claim.
VI. And finally, the chlorine canard
The term “chlorinated hydrocarbon” can be used to refer to ANY of the thousands of compounds containing chlorine, carbon,hydrogen and oxygen. But anti-sucralose crusaders want you to think that all chlorinated hydrocarbons are the same, when in fact some are inert (sucralose) and some will kill you. When people with little knowledge of organic chemistry start making scientific statements, you can count on misinformation being the result.
To verify the safety of sucralose, themanufacturer, the EPA, FDA and nine other international agencies including the World Health Organization, used the most sensitive and comprehensive testing available. The unanimous finding was that 2% to 15% of ingested sucralose is absorbed, and this minute amount is quickly and easily metabolized by the liverand kidneys to toxicologically insignificant compounds that are excreted through the urine and intestinal tract. As a result, every nation that has studied sucralose (83 thus far) has approved it without caution, warnings or limitations. Fine even for pregnant and nursing women because it is not absorbed.
Importantly, sucraloseis insoluble in fat (unlike other chlorinated hydrocarbons) and thus –even if it was absorbed – would not accumulate in fat tissue. Indeed the molecule has not been found in any tissue of any animal tested in safety studies.
Thus fears of sucralose “accumulating in the body” are groundless, and people making such statements should be vigorously challenged.
Now, let’s play “What IF.”
What if a small amount of sucralose is absorbed by the body. What would be the impact? Certainly, we would not be concerned with the carbon, hydrogen or oxygen. These are all immediately used by the body. What about that chloride? Is that a problem?
Let’s take a large amount – say, 10 packets of Splenda. That’s 10 mg of sucralose. Using 15% – the maximum amount referenced above, means that 1.5 mg may be absorbed andtemporarily resides in the body. In that amount, according to the chemical formula, there is less than 6 micrograms of chlorine, as chloride. How does this compare with foods and beverages that most of us consume every day?
Well, one potato chip will contain more than a hundred times as much chlorine. Of course, sucralose critics will point out that table salt (sodium chloride) is an INORGANIC salt of chlorine, which does not contain carbon and hydrogen. They claim that the presence of carbon creates a chlorocarbon, which is true, but misses the point that our food supply contains hundreds of organochlorine / chlorocarbon compounds.
Do you ever consume anything made with cacao, like chocolate or cocoa? One 5 gram serving of cocoa contains 460 mg of chlorine, mostly as organochlorine compounds. That’s 75,000 times the amount of chlorine found in 10 packets of Splenda.
A slice of bread (white or whole wheat) contains over 250 mg of chlorine. Add a spoonful ofunsalted peanut butter (25mg) and some jam (15 mg) and that snack is giving you 50 thousand times more chlorine than you’ll get in 10 packets of Splenda.
One egg…… 160 mg chlorine
A 6 oz glass of red wine… 40 mg
An ounce (6) dates…… 290 mg
NOTE: I am not recommending that anyone consume 10 packets of Splenda. I actively and consistently promote a highly varied natural foods diet, but we have to remember that everything is dose-related. There is simply no reliable evidence that a small amount of sucralose will cause harm. None. Stop the Webaloney. Challenge the fear-mongers.