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Research Finds Sucralose Molecule Could Damage Human Cell DNA

June 5, 2023
Sucralose-6-acetate was found to be genotoxic to human blood cells in the study out of North Carolina State University.

North Carolina State University researchers have found that a chemical in sucralose, produced when the artificial sweetener is processed in the human digestive tract, can damage the DNA of human cells, potentially leading to inflammatory diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and cancer.

The study, led by adjunct professor Susan Schiffman, and published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, found that gut bacteria broke sucralose down into a structurally similar molecule called sucralose-6-acetate. The research team then exposed human blood cells to the sucralose-6-acetate and found the molecule to be genotoxic in the cells, meaning they could cause breaks in the cell DNA and damage to chromosomes.

In addition, sucralose also could damage the cells lining the intestinal walls, leading the potential waste materials that would normally be flushed out of the system could leak into a person’s bloodstream.

The study was covered by Newsweek, which received comments supporting the safety of sucralose from a Splenda spokesperson as well as a spokesperson from the International Sweetener Association.

The N.C. State study hopes to reopen the books on the positives and negatives of sucralose as an artificial sweetener, used to cut calories in a large number of food products.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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