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Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe?

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has said that researchers outside the United States found that sucralose causes cancer in animal studies. The products I use have sucralose in them—are they safe for me to eat? Jeffrey I. Krantz, Boca Raton, Florida

Meghann Moore, RD, CDE, MPH, responds

Sucralose is the unbranded name of the artificial sweetener known as Splenda and is found in many food and drink products.

What to Know

Sucralose is one of six artificial sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has been available since 1998. The FDA reviewed over 100 scientific studies on the safety of sucralose before approving it as a sweetener and determined that, when consumed in appropriate quantities, there was no evidence that it—or any of the other approved sweeteners—causes cancer or poses any other threat to human health.

Find Out More

In a controversial European study, mice were fed sucralose their entire lives, beginning as fetuses and continuing until death. Worth noting: The lowest dose of sucralose used in this study exceeded the maximum safety dose in humans and was not associated with an increase in cancer rates in the mice.

True, the researchers did find an increase in the cancer rates of male mice (not female mice), but only when they consumed the equivalent of 31 times the recommended maximum human dose. To put that into perspective, in order to consume that much sucralose, you’d have to eat 713 packets of Splenda every single day of your life, including during the time you were a developing fetus in the womb.

Finally, it’s important to understand that there are important biological differences between mice and humans, so any findings in mice cannot be assumed to be true for humans. This is only one study and research is often contradictory. Before making any decisions about your food and drink choices—or anything else for that matter—it is wise to consider all of the available evidence from reputable sources. And talk to your doctor if you still want to make a change.


Evaluate scientific research carefully. Findings in mice and other animal studies will not necessarily apply to humans. Sucralose is considered a safe sweetener when you eat less than the acceptable daily intake of 23 packets per day.

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