Two artificial sweeteners have had their fates inexorably linked together because of a flawed study, diabetics and the United States Congress. Here's the story...
|Common & Trade Names (Sucaryl, Sweet 'N Low (Canada), Sugar Twin (Canada)) - 0 Calories Per Gram
Michael Sveda, a graduate student at the University of Illinois, discovered cyclamate in 1937 when he accidentally tasted some that was stuck to the end of his cigarette. DuPont went on to purchase the patent for cyclamate and then sold it to Abbott Laboratories. Abbott studied it and went through the process of submitting a new drug application in 1950. Their intent was to use cyclamate to mask the bitterness of certain drugs.
In 1958 it was designated GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) and marketed to diabetics and as an alternative sweetener. It is currently sold in over 50 countries and the European Union.
Cyclamate is 30-50 times sweeter than sugar, depending on concentration, making it the least potent of the commercially used artificial sweeteners.
The bad news for cyclamate started to appear in 1966, when a study reported that intestinal bacteria could desulfonate cyclamate and produce cyclohexylamine, a compound that was suspected to have toxicity in animals. In 1969, another study showed that the 10 parts cyclamate and 1 part saccharin (another artificial sweetener) commonly used, increased the incidence of bladder cancer in rats.
In 1969 the FDA announced that cyclamate would be banned in the US as of September 11, 1970. In 1973 Abbott Laboratories claimed they were unable to reproduce the 1969 rat study and they petitioned the FDA to lift the ban. Seven long years later the FDA acted, and denied the petition. A second petition was filed to lift the ban in 1982.
In 1985 the Cancer Assessment Committee of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition concluded that cyclamate is NOT a carcinogen. The National Academy of Sciences also conducted a comprehensive review and they too concluded cyclamate does not cause cancer.
However, the FDA still has not lifted the original 1970 ban on cyclamate. Currently they are waiting for studies to determine whether, "cyclamate is a tumor promoter in animals, or a co-carcinogen -- that is, a substance that may increase the likelihood of cancer from another substance."
You should probably read that sentence again because of its mind numbing stupidity. Cyclamate is being kept off the market until they can prove it's not a tumor promoter in ANIMALS...since when are animals getting artificial sweeteners? And the second part of the statement where they have to prove it doesn't cause cancer when mixed with OTHER substances. What is the company that makes it supposed to do? Test every possible substance under the sun to see if it causes cancer...then if it DOESN'T, mix it with cyclamate to see if TOGETHER they do?
It's so unbelievably moronic as to boggle the mind. I'm all for protecting the public, but this looks like a case of a federal agency that's too bull headed to admit when they're wrong. As of November 2006 the FDA ban was still officially in place for the United States.
||Common & Trade Names (Hermesetas, Necta Sweet, Sugar Twin, Sweet 'N Low, Sweet 'N Low Brown) - 0 Calories Per Gram
Saccharin was discovered by Ira Remsen and Constantin Fahlberg of Johns Hopkins University in 1879. (That's not a typo, it really was discovered over 100 years ago.)
Remsen failed to thoroughly wash his hands after working in the lab and noticed the sweetener during dinner. In 1884 Fahlberg went on to patent, mass produce and make a fortune off saccharin, without ever mentioning Remsen. (I guess his lab partner slipped his mind.) It's about 300-700 times sweeter than sugar.
There were concerns about the safety of saccharin almost since it was introduced to the public. It was briefly banned in 1912 due to safety concerns, but that ban was lifted 5 years later.
Nothing substantial as far as scientific research emerged until a study was released in 1977 that showed an increased rate of bladder cancer in rats that were fed large doses of saccharin. As a direct result of that study, Canada officially banned saccharin and the FDA proposed a ban. The ban was met with strong public opposition because, at the time, saccharin was the only artificial sweetener available in the U.S. (Cyclamate had just been banned.)
Congress stepped in and placed a moratorium on the ban, but they required that all saccharin-containing foods display a warning label stating that saccharin may be a carcinogen.
Of course those labels are no longer on foods. As researchers started looking at the experiments, they realized the rats were given doses of saccharin hundreds of times higher than would ever be taken in by humans. The syringes used in the experiments were considered suspect when it was discovered the rubber plungers corroded and bits of them might have gone into the rats. Even the rats themselves were a bad choice for testing cancers when it was found out that some used (Fischer 344 Rat) developed cancer spontaneously when injected with nothing more than pure water!
In 1991 the FDA formally withdrew its proposal to ban saccharin. Nine years later, in 2000 Congress finally repealed the law requiring warning labels on products containing saccharin. Saccharin is the most tested of all the artificial sweeteners, with over 2,300 studies (and counting) done so far. As of August 2006, a definitive link between saccharin consumption and cancer in humans has never been made.
UPDATE: On December 14th, 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially REMOVED saccharin from their list of hazardous substances. That's something we've been saying for the last five years based on the medical research. The official ruling is below.
"In December, 2010, EPA amended its regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to remove saccharin and its salts from the lists of hazardous constituents and commercial chemical products which are hazardous wastes when discarded or intended to be discarded.
EPA also amended the regulations under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to remove saccharin and its salts from the list of hazardous substances.
In response to a petition submitted to EPA by the Calorie Control Council (CCC) Exit EPA to remove saccharin and its salts from RCRA and CERCLA, EPA will no longer list these substances as hazardous on the above mentioned lists.
EPA granted CCC's petition based on a review of the evaluations conducted by key public health agencies concerning the carcinogenic and other potential toxicological effects of saccharin and its salts. In addition, EPA assessed the waste generation and management information for saccharin and its salts, concluding that the wastes do not meet the criteria for hazardous waste regulations."
In a press release the EPA further stated:
"In the late 1990s, the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer re-evaluated the available scientific information on saccharin and its salts and concluded that it is not a potential human carcinogen. Because the scientific basis for remaining on EPA's lists no longer applies, the agency has removed saccharin and its salts from its lists."
Click Here for Part 1 - The Natural Stuff
Click Here for Part 3 - Blue, Yellow and Coming Soon...
Click Here for Part 4 - Sugar Alcohols and Hidden Sweeteners