Modern people consume more sugar on a daily basis than our prehistoric ancestors likely consumed in a year, possibly in their entire lives. Even though we may finally be reducing it, sugar consumption has skyrocketed, from about the equivalent of one can of soda every five days in 1822 to about three-and-a-half cans equivalent every day. That’s added sugar, not including sugar that’s naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and grains.

So it’s no wonder that sugar and sugar-related conditions like diabetes and tooth decay are major health concerns today. And it’s no wonder that many people are looking to cut sugar from their diet, maybe not cold turkey as some people have done, but reducing the amount of sugar consumed. And switching to sugar substitutes represents an easy way to do that without sacrificing the sweet taste we all crave.

But with the discovery that sucralose, the sweetener in Splenda, may be related to cancer, some people are concerned that their healthy diet swap may have backfired. Based on the research that’s been done, that’s unlikely.

wooden kitchen spoon holding sugar and cubes sitting next to it.

Does Splenda Cause Cancer?

To determine health risks related to sucralose, researchers put mice on diets that contained varying amounts of sucralose. The sample included 457 male mice and 396 female mice who were randomly assigned to diets that contained 0, 500, 2000, 8000, or 16,000 parts per million sucralose. Mice were on these diets from 12 days of gestation until death. And, sure enough, they found that the more sucralose mice ate, the more likely they were to develop cancer, although results were stronger in male mice.

Male mice had significantly more malignant tumors proportional to the sucralose in their diet. And mice had statistically significant increases in leukemia at diets of 2000 and 16,000 ppm sucralose.

How Does This Compare to My Dose?

Overall, the doses are likely much higher than you’re consuming. Each Splenda packet is only about 1% sucralose, so each packet represents about 5.5 ppm sucralose if you consume an average American diet. So, you’d have to eat 90 packets of Splenda a day to reach the lowest test diet, and about 360 packets a day to reach the diet where leukemia became evident. Since the average American consumes about 36 teaspoons of sugar a day, even if you completely switch to Splenda, you’re probably getting less than a half of the minimum diet studied, or 1/10th the amount in a leukemia-linked diet.

Which is not to say that there is zero concern. Part of the reason experimental mice are fed high diets is because they don’t live very long. A mouse might live two years, so over the course of your lifetime, you can actually consume something proportional to the 8000 ppm diet–the second highest diet these mice were fed. Although the exposure would be less intense, cancer mutations increase over time, so it could still be relevant.

Overall, the risk of cancers related to sucralose is low, but still a potential concern if you’re considering switching over. Even xylitol has some potential risks, so it’s important to moderate consumption.

But there’s no concern about good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups as methods to reduce your risk of cavities. If you are looking for a dentist in Wilmington, NC to help maintain your oral health, please call (910) 392-6060 for an appointment at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry today.