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In Defense of Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners have become a hot topic in the world of nutrition and health. In this blog post, we will explore artificial sweeteners, back up our discussion with relevant studies (cited with PMID numbers), compare them to other common things like coffee and sunlight, and understand the implications of the IARC classification. Additionally, we'll delve into research on weight loss and insulin levels for a well-rounded understanding.

IARC Classification and Animal Testing

Before we dive into the specifics, let's understand the IARC classification system. This system categorizes substances based on their potential carcinogenicity:

  • Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans.

  • Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans.

  • Group 2B: Possibly carcinogenic to humans.

  • Group 3: Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans.

  • Group 4: Probably not carcinogenic to humans.

Most artificial sweeteners fall into Group 3 or Group 4, indicating that they are not classifiable or probably not carcinogenic to humans. It's essential to recognize that these classifications primarily rely on animal testing, which can sometimes exaggerate potential risks due to the higher doses used in these studies. At all classes, IARC doesn’t specify at which levels or exposure the risk start to occur.

Common Artificial Sweeteners and Research

Aspartame: Aspartame is one of the most extensively researched artificial sweeteners. (PMID: 15367404) Research is showing that aspartame is safe for human consumption when used within acceptable daily intake (ADI) levels, and there has yet to be human trial to show that it is cancer causing. Depending on the agency, the acceptable or safe level of consumption would be 18 to 24 cans of diet soda per day. The FDA acceptable daily intake is 50 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight, so for a 150lb person, that would be more than 18 cans of soda, or 92 packets of Equal.

Saccharin: Saccharin is another common artificial sweetener. Similar to Aspartame, there have been no studies done on humans to prove that it is a carcinogen. Most trials are done on rats, and most end inconclusive, with some exceptions.

Comparing to Common Items

Now, let's compare the safety of artificial sweeteners to common items that people often use without much concern.

Coffee: Numerous studies (PMID: 36769029, PMID: 29474816) have suggested that moderate coffee consumption may have potential health benefits, including reduced risk of certain diseases but it is labeled as a class 2B carcinogen just like aspartame. Here are some class 2A carcinogens they have listed….. red meat, high temp frying, night shift work, glass manufacturers, and being a hairdresser or barber.

Sunlight: Exposure to sunlight is essential for vitamin D synthesis, but overexposure can lead to skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. UV radiation from the sun is classified as Group 1 by the IARC, meaning it is carcinogenic to humans. Also in class 1 are, alcohol consumption, outdoor air pollution, wood dust, and tobacco.

Research on Weight Loss and Insulin Levels

It's also worth exploring the impact of artificial sweeteners on weight loss and insulin levels, as these are essential factors for many individuals. Here are some key findings:

Weight Loss (PMID: 33490098): A study indicates that artificial sweeteners can be beneficial in weight management, as they provide a sweet taste without calories, helping individuals reduce their overall calorie intake.

Insulin Levels (PMID: 32110567): Some research suggests that artificial sweeteners do not significantly affect insulin levels when consumed within recommended limits. However, individual responses may vary.

It's important to understand that while artificial sweeteners, like aspartame and saccharin, are generally considered safe within recommended levels, their impact can vary from person to person.

Comparing them to common items like coffee, meat, and sunlight, we see that moderation and balance are key in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Always make informed choices based on your individual needs and preferences, while keeping in mind that the IARC classification system is largely based on animal testing and may not always represent the real-world risks for humans.


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