Study says excessive consumption of artificial sweeteners is linked to cancer

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Sweeteners, whatever their form, have long been considered bad for health because they are associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Recent research has shown that consuming artificial sweeteners in high levels can increase the risk of cancer.

Reporting from The Indian Express, artificial sweeteners, also known as cyclamate, have been shown to increase cancer mouse bladder. However, because human physiology differs from that of mice, observational studies failed to find an association between sweeteners and cancer in humans.

Research from PLOS Medicine last week proved a link between sweeteners and cancer in humans. According to observations of more than 100,000 people, it is known that participants who consume some high levels of sweeteners, it turns out that there is a slightly increased risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Researchers asked the participants to keep a food diary to assess their intake of artificial sweeteners. Researchers followed half of the participants for more than eight years. The results of the study reported that aspartame and acesulfame K had an associated cancer risk. Both of these ingredients are more specific to increase breast cancer and cancers related to obesity, such as colorectal, stomach, and prostate cancer.

How do sweeteners increase cancer risk in humans? Foods containing sweeteners mimic the effect gula on our taste receptors. The imitation delivers intense sweetness with no or very few calories. Some sweeteners occur naturally, such as stevia or yacon syrup. Meanwhile, other sweeteners such as aspartame are artificial sweeteners.

Even though they contain little or no calories, sweeteners still affect human health. For example, aspartame turns into formaldehyde (a carcinogen) when the body digests it. This has the potential to make it accumulate in cells and become cancerous.

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Human cells are designed to self-destruct when they turn into cancer. However, aspartame has been shown to turn off the function of the gene that tells cancer cells to auto-destruct. Other sweeteners such as sucralose and saccharin have also been shown to damage DNA. This can lead to cancer.

Sweeteners also affect the bacteria in the human gut which means they can damage the immune system, meaning they are no longer able to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. However, the results of these cell and animal-based experiments are still unclear. It is not yet known how sweeteners initiate or support cancer cell changes. Many of these experiments would also be difficult to implement in humans because the amount of sweetener given in doses was much higher than what humans have ever consumed.

Based on current evidence, sweeteners can generally affect weight gain. Recent studies taking into account a person’s body mass index, it is possible that changes in body fat may participate in the development of many types of cancer, but not necessarily because of the sweeteners themselves.

Those who consumed the highest levels of artificial sweeteners had a 13 percent higher risk of developing cancer, compared to those who consumed the lowest amounts of artificial sweeteners in the study period. So, the difference in risk levels was only slightly higher for those who consumed the higher sweetener than those who consumed the lower one.

The link between sweeteners and cancer is controversial. However, it’s important to know that not all sweeteners are the same. Sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin have been linked to poor health, but stevia and xylitol are different.

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Stevia is a product of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, which has been reported for its properties for controlling diabetes and weight. In addition, stevia can also lower blood pressure. Meanwhile, xylitol, which is a natural sugar alcohol, can also support the immune and digestive systems.

Both sweeteners have also been shown to protect teeth from decay, possibly because they kill bad bacteria in the mouth. So, the important thing to remember is not the amount of sweetener consumed, but the type of sweetener used.

BERNADETTE JEANE WIDJAJA | THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Also read: 6 Natural Sweeteners Substitute for Sugar, There is Maple and Date Syrup

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