A new study has found that a chemical formed when humans digest artificial sweetener sucralose is genotoxic, which means that it breaks up the DNA. The chemical is also found in trace amounts in the sweetener itself.
Sucralose is a widely used artificial sweetener. Previous work by the same research team established that several fat-soluble compounds are produced in the gut after sucralose ingestion. One of these compounds is sucralose-6-acetate.
The European Food Safety Authority has a threshold of toxicological concern for all genotoxic substances of 0.15 micrograms per person per day. The new work suggests that the trace amounts of sucralose-6-acetate in a single, daily sucralose-sweetened drink exceed that threshold. It is not even accounting for the amount of sucralose-6-acetate produced as metabolites after people consume the sweetener.
For the study, researchers conducted a series of in vitro experiments exposing human blood cells to sucralose-6-acetate and monitoring for markers of genotoxicity. They also exposed human gut tissues to sucralose-6-acetate. The team found that both chemicals cause ‘leaky gut,’ or make the wall of the gut more permeable, making wastes that must be flushed out of the body in feces instead of leaking out of the gut and being absorbed into the bloodstream.