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CSPI Special Report Says Sugar Substitutes Are Not So Sweet

Which artificial sweetener is 20,000 times sweeter than sugar and appears to be safe— even though it’s derived in part from an unsafe sweetener? What are the healthiest drinks for weight loss? Can artificial sweeteners lead to diabetes? Do diet sodas foster a taste for sweets?Those are the kinds of questions that scientists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest answer in a new report titled “Sweet Nothings: Safe . . . Or Scary? The Inside Scoop on Sugar Substitutes.” The report evaluates the safety of all the sugar substitutes—both natural and artificial—on the market and gives consumers objective, science-based advice about which are safe and which should be avoided.

“Aspartame tops our list of sugar substitutes to avoid, because it caused cancer in three independent studies using laboratory rats and mice,” wrote CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson and senior scientist Lisa Y. Lefferts in
the report. “Based on those studies, FDA should ban aspartame.We also recommend avoiding saccharin because of evidence from human and animal studies, albeit inconsistent, that it may increase the risk of cancer.”

“Sweet Nothings” also evaluates the safety of several emerging high-potency natural sugar substitutes, such as brazzein, monatin, monk fruit extract, stevia leaf extract (or rebiana) and thaumatin.The report can be purchased in digital or print editions at www.nutritionaction.com/shop/sweet-nothings.

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