What's the Truth About Artificial Sweeteners?

If you love rumors and intrigue, enter the world of artificial sweeteners.

| Jun 1, 2005

If you love rumors and intrigue, enter the world of artificial sweeteners.

Several of them have become infamous subjects of Internet urban legends. The truth about them is far less exciting. Artificial sweeteners are well tested and well tolerated by most people, and they offer a world of sweet options to those who avoid calorie-containing sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners offer an array of sweet options for people who choose to avoid sugar. Although modest amounts of sugar are now permitted on most diabetes meal plans, sweeteners allow people with diabetes to enjoy a wider variety of foods, in larger servings.

Acesulfame K, aspartame, saccharin and sucralose are four popular calorie-free sweeteners approved for use in the United States. Below is an overview of these products.

Acesulfame K

Sold under the brand names Sweet One, Swiss Sweet and Sunett, this product is approximately 200 times sweeter than table sugar. It retains its taste when heated and can be used in baking and cooking. It is found in thousands of products, including chewing gum, powdered beverage and dessert mixes, candy, dairy products and drinks. People living in some 90 different countries consume Acesulfame K.


Sold as NutraSweet and Equal, Aspartame is one of the most carefully studied food ingredients ever. Aspartame has been the target of many Internet rumors and urban legends linking it to such diseases as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and lupus. These allegations have been examined and are absolutely false. Over 200 scientific studies have confirmed its safety, and regulatory agencies in more than 100 countries have endorsed its use.

Approved by the FDA in 1981, Aspartame is considered safe for most individuals including children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. It should not be used by those who experience allergic reactions, such as skin and breathing problems, or by people who have the rare disease phenylketonuria (PKU), as their bodies can’t break down phenylalanine, one of aspartame’s main ingredients.


Sold under the names of Sweet’N Low and Sugar Twin, in 1977, the FDA attempted to ban saccharin when studies on male rats demonstrated that it could cause cancer. Further research found that the rats themselves had a predisposition to developing cancer and the sweetener was not the cause. More than 25 years of research has shown that saccharin does not cause cancer in humans.


Known best by the brand name Splenda, this sweetener is made from sugar, a fact that has drawn some negative attention. Internet rumors state that Splenda ads confuse the public into believing that it is as natural as sugar. As with other “artificial” sweeteners, Splenda is a manufactured product. It is created by substituting three atoms of chlorine for three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule. Its safety has been evaluated in more than 100 studies over a 20-year period, and it is considered safe for all individuals, regardless of age.

The Sweet Choice is Yours

If you wish to take advantage of these products, the sweet choice is yours. For additional information, visit caloriecontrol.org.

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Posted by Anonymous on 16 November 2007

Would those of you claiming aspartame is dangerous please give a citation? I am seriously trying to understand this issue and am finding too many unsubstantiated statements.

Posted by Anonymous on 17 November 2007

I believe this woman is a shill; sorry to say. Do a study yourself, go a month without aspartame and then have someone sneak it into some of your food. You will probably get dizzy and have a headache. It is a poison, every kid the first time they drink diet soda know it comes from hell. It is a brain killer, and the fact that Donald Rumsfeld was the CEO of the company that first put it on the market in 1981, tells you something about the karma associated with this appalling chemical.

Posted by Anonymous on 27 January 2008

Really don't understand all the ranting and raving about sweetners. I have used them my entire life with ZERO side effects. The thing about them is that some people will have problems and MOST will not. Some people are allergic to some things while others are not. Any time you have a problem/reaction with a product discontinue its use. I have read books and surfed the net only to find that the FDA's current standing on the issues is that they are all safe for human consumption. So take that into consideration all you conspiracy theorists.

Posted by Anonymous on 28 January 2008

i dunno how i got to reading these posts, but as soon as the ranter hit on Donald Rumsfeld, i publicly laughed out loud.

thank you Janis Roszler, RD, CDE, LD/N for your thorough descriptions.

p.s. i consume all of the above, as well as sugar, and at 51y.o. have normal health.

Posted by Solaera on 6 March 2008

I find that this Registered Dietician is ill-informed about the dangers of artifical sweetners. Several years ago I tried to "diet" and started using all the products that had aspartame in them because they were the least distasteful of what was available. What I didn't count on was the methanol toxicity I got from it! Since then I have been using real sugar. I came to this site because I was looking for information for diabetics who are allergic to artifical sweetners. (As it turns out I get migraines from Splenda too.) I was very disappointed. I certainly hope someone supervises this woman and her comments. Also to the woman who posted about her laughing about the Donald Rumsfeld info. It does matter because he pushed it through for MONEY!! NOT SAFETY!!! Then he conveniently left the FDA. WOW...Read before you criticize honey.

Posted by Anonymous on 17 July 2008

I'm sorry to say that unfortunately Janis Roszler has not done her homework properly. It looks as if she's gone only to the FDA website and copied a paragraph into her article. Aspartame in particular is an excitotoxin. It stimulates receptors in the brain so to the point that they burn out and die (hence 'excitotoxin'). For a good site to check on the full list of reactions, try http://www.mercola.com/article/aspartame/dangers.htm

Happy reading!

Posted by Anonymous on 3 August 2008

Anyone ever notice how all the bad stuff about artificial sweeteners is always on random sites that any Joe Blogs can make and has claims with no evidence to back them up? When the real facts are on proper renown websites of health from Doctors with the scientific studies to back them up.
Rumours are spread by gossiping bored conspiracy theorists in a split second, facts are proved by hard working scientists over decades.

Posted by Anonymous on 8 December 2008

Isn't it strange that so many cases of terrible and terminal diseases and disorders,including diabetes, has risen so sharply since Nutrasweet has started to be used as a sugar substitute?Nutrasweet actually causes diabetes,and it has really taken a toll on women and children.Even men are getting breast cancer now.Nutrasweet affects every organ,including the skin(lupus)

Posted by Anonymous on 25 September 2009

This woman, Janis Roszler, is a corporate whore. She's the tyrannical monitor over at DLife.com. Go to DLife.com and check out their corporate sponsors and you'll see that Janis Roszler is not to be trusted and should probably be indicted for crimes against humanity due to constant lying, shilling for corporate greed. NO respect for this morally bankrupt excuse for a human being.

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