Food Additives to Avoid – Saccharin Side Effects

Here is the next post in our food additives to avoid series. This post deals with saccharin side effects.

Saccharin is the oldest artificial sweetener which is less popular these days due to it’s odd after taste. Saccharin was found way back in 1878 by a chemist working with coal tar by products at the John Hopkins Uni when he found at the end of the day that his hand tasted sweet… why he would taste his hand is beyond me. Bad personal hygiene perhaps? 🙂

Saccharin is made by mixing anthranilic acid with nitrous acid, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and ammonia. Sounds more like a recipe for a cleaning product than a sweetener doesn’t it? After all, many of these are viewed as poisons. And yet, millions upon millions of people consume it every year despite saccharin side effects.

Saccharine is found in diet or sugar free sodas, diet coke, coke zero, jello, desserts, sugar free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, table top sweeteners, cereal, breath mints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste

Since being found, saccharin has been under dispute. In fact, like aspartame, it has been one of the most disputed additives.

saccharin side effects - Image of an bottle of saccharin with warnings

  • In 1907, the USDA began looking at saccharin through the Pure Food and Drug Act. The bureau of chemistry director for the USDA, Harvey Wiley, felt saccharin should not be used in food. He is quoted as saying saccharin was, “a coal tar product totally devoid of food value and extremely injurious to health.”. He ultimately lost his job for saying it though. But his statement is hardly surprising with the deadly chemical cocktail it is made from. There is no way it could be healthy.
  • In 1911, foods with saccharin were called “adulterated” (Spoiled)
  • In 1912, The FDA did a back flip and said that saccharin wasn’t harmful.
  • In 1948-49 there was much debate about the dangers of saccharin, but in 1969, an study into those claims found little proof.
  • In 1972, the FDA tried to ban the product due to saccharin side effects and failed.
  • The FDA was concerned in 1970 when researchers learned that saccharin caused bladder, vascular and lung cancer in lab rats and uterine cancer in female rats. When the ban failed, the FDA added a warning to labels of food that contained saccharin that it caused bladder cancer in rats.
  • In late 2000, the FDA removed warning labels after studies showed that rats have a completely different chemical make up to their urine that reacts with saccharin and damages the bladder walls leading to cancer.
  • By 2010, saccharin was removed from nearly every carcinogenic list, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program to the EPA’s list of hazardous products.

In 1997 the Center for the Science in Public Interest believed that because of saccharin side effects it would be “highly imprudent for the National Toxicology Program to delist saccharin.” As doing so “would give the public a false sense of security, remove any incentive for further testing, and result in greater exposure to this probable carcinogen in tens of millions of people, including children and fetuses.”

In a 1978 study, researchers concluded that, “Saccharin is carcinogenic for the urinary bladder in rats and mice, and most likely is carcinogenic in human beings.”

But saccharin supporters argued that rats and people are different, that’s obvious enough. Of course, no one is willing to do a double blind, placebo-controlled study with saccharin, as it would be wrong from a moral view to put someone at risk. But there are several research studies showing a definite link between saccharin and an increase in cancer risk.

  1. The National Cancer Institute found a 10% increase in bladder cancer cases between 1973 and 1994.
  2. A study of almost 1,900 cases found that heavy use of artificial sweeteners greatly increased bladder cancer risk.
  3. A study of over 600 cases in males also found a greater risk of cancer in Canadian men who used more artificial sweeteners or used them for a longer.
  4. A British study found that women who had more than 10 saccharin pills per day were also more likely to get cancer.
  5. Scary facts huh? So why is this deadly chemical still in use?

    Other Saccharin Side Effects

    But cancer is only one of the saccharin side effects, is also linked to allergic reactions like headaches, breathing issues like asthma, skin rashes, and diarrhea. Did you know that saccharin is added to some baby formulas? Would you want your child to be exposed to this deadly cocktail?

    So maybe you’re using them because you want to lose weight. Sadly, a study by “Appetite” in Nov 2008 showed saccharine increases insulin concentration. This is a risk factor for diabetes and obesity. Not what you want when you choose a ‘diet’ product.

    Do you want to risk it? I know I don’t.

    If you like sweet foods, sweeten with stevia. This toxin free, sweet herb comes in powder and liquid forms and is the only substance that can be used to replace sugar that improves insulin sensitivity rather than decrease it (i.e. reduce blood sugar levels). Stevia has been used in South America for hundreds of years and doesn’t have the saccharin side effects. It is ideal to sweeten coffee, oatmeal, or even give mineral water a flavor boost.

Comments are closed.