Conspiracy TheoriesSkepticism

The War on Splenda.

Splenda (or Sucralose) is a sucrose based no calorie sweetener. Splenda and other no calorie sweeteners are becoming increasing available in various foodstuffs and restaurants because they provide the sweetness of sugar with none of the calories. I use Splenda in tea and in recipes in place of sugar. Some of my friends don’t like artificial sweeteners. Some of them just don’t like the taste, which is alright. Others  are worried it causes nameless bad health affects because it’s an artificial chemical. It’s hard to know how to respond to them. No matter what I say my friends can always invoke the illogical but infuriatingly irrefutable argument, “Well, you never know.” So, I have decided to do some research on the Splenda hysteria.

I Googled Splenda and got a bunch of websites claiming Splenda will give you everything from  cancer to vague  muscle pains. They invoke words like toxins and unnatural and try to get you angry that they are putting chemicals in your food (What does that even mean anyway? Everything is a chemical). All this fear mongering is usually accompanied by no scientific data. If there is it is usually one, small, preliminary study. They will act as if it is the definitive word that proves everything they’ve been saying all along.

The National Cancer Institute says there is no established link between any artificial sweetener and cancer in humans. From reading their website I found that early animal studies often showed a link between artificial sweeteners but when done with humans it doesn’t transfer. For instance studies in the 1970’s linked Saccherin with the development of bladder cancer in lab rats. But later studies showed no such link in humans. Further more other studies of FDA approved sweeteners have shown no evidence of cancer in humans.

Of coarse none of this matters to all the internet bloggers that make vague health claims and talk of research that they never allow you to lay your finger on. The bottom line with these guys is they don’t care about science. Sure, they’ll use it when it supports them but the dozens of studies that cast doubt on there claims get ignored . If they were really so keen on truth as they claim they wouldn’t hideously misrepresent the research.

The trouble is, even though the science is completely against it, the Splenda scare tactics are very compelling. Fear is one of the best motivates. It can make people believe insane things and commit atrocities all in the name of self defense. But we are not helpless to fear. As skeptics we overcome irrational fear everyday; fear of the government; fear of doctors; fear of chemicals. The best thing we can do is plant seeds of rationality in our friends and family. That is all I can do for my friends. They won’t believe me right away but I will just have to keep plugging away with things like: “If Splenda was proven to cause cancer why would it still be on the market?” and “Why would the government want to kill you? That would be one less person to pay taxes.”

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Lyra Lynx

Lyra Lynx

4 Comments

  1. January 31, 2010 at 8:51 pm —

    This is stunning! I always thought that aspartame was a known carcinogen. The fact that it’s on the market doesn’t on its own convince me that it’s not — cigarette sales are legal, for example. But the NCI page all about it sure does. I guess it’s the cancer-in-some-animals business that threw me off.

    Ah well. I still think it leaves a nasty aftertaste.

  2. bobby0512
    January 31, 2010 at 10:37 pm —

    No, I’m not fear monger.

    I took Splenda (sucralose) for about 5 years (1999-2005). I gradual started to have multiple medical problems. Yup, It was sucralose. I confirmed it.

    When you were doing your research, did you notice all the posts that I made. Go ahead, Google bobby0512.

    Why did I make hundreds of anti-sucralose posts? I just copied and pasted the same thing over and over again. Why did I do that? Am I a fear monger? Or just a nut case?

    Well in 2005, after I discovered that it was sucralose that caused these problems, I became very angry. I wanted everyone to know. I had a need to tell the world, help somebody. Prevent others from suffering the way I did.

    When I did my research on sucralose, I became even more angry. Organochlorides are poisons and solvents. Sucralose is the only organochloride used for human consumption. Isn’t that strange?

    No one knows if sucralose causes cancer or not.

    So you can choose to use it, your friends can choose not to use it, I know what it did to me.

    Bobby

  3. Rebel 16
    January 31, 2010 at 11:00 pm —

    Thanks for this post! It’s good to have your preconceptions challenged from time to time. I’ve long been in the “saccharine = DEATH” camp, based on that preliminary research you mentioned. I don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners in general, so I haven’t ever bothered to follow up on it. I’m definitely going to read up on that research. Still, I’m not going to eat the stuff until they’ve improved the flavor.

  4. pciszek
    February 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm —

    That aspertame (Nutrasweet) breaks down into something nasty tasting after it has sat around warm for a while, I can verify from personal experience. It is a fact that sucralose can take the heat of cooking much better than aspertame, and I think it tastes better in general. Unfortunately, the only soft drinks that use it are Diet Rite (available in only three flavors where I live, even though more exist) and the occasional odd store brand. Coke did come out with a Splenda-based diet Coke that tasted awful–I don’t know what they were trying to accomplish with that. It certainly doesn’t have to taste like that.

    Maybe someone older can confirm or deny something for me: I seem to remember that way back when, Kool Aid came in a pouch about the size of a credit card that made a quart of beverage. Then, with the saccharin scare, it still came in the little pouch, but you had to provide massive amounts of sugar yourself. Later, you could buy it with the sugar included. Is that correct, or is my memory playing tricks on me?

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