LONDON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Concerns have been raised in recent years that sugar alternatives could be bad for health, with studies specifically suggesting sucralose, sold as Splenda, may increase the risk for cancer.
Despite evidence to the contrary, a review of studies on sucralose indicates the chemical may not have the carcinogenic effects some suspect, researchers report in the new study, published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.
The artificial sweetener industry has taken some hits in recent years. In addition to the increased worry about cancer risk, a major selling point of sucrose -- swapping it in for table sugar to reduce caloric intake and weight -- was shot down by a study suggesting the sweetener tricks people into being hungrier; they eat more and fail to lose weight.
A study last year linked sucralose to a higher risk for leukemia, but criticism of its results focused on levels of the sweetener fed to mice in experiments being thousands of times higher than any person would likely consume.
The new study, which was funded by Splenda creator McNeil Nutritionals, includes studies that looked at the effects of consuming the sucralose equivalent of 74 to 495 pounds of sugar per day. The results of even these outsize amounts of sweetener, researchers say, was a limited effect on cancer risk.
"Concerns are raised from time to time on what components of our lifestyle affect the rates of cancer," Dr. Colin Berry, a professor of pathology at the University of London, said in a press release. "Smoking and sunlight are on all our lists and obesity is beginning to be recognized as a major factor. So low calorie sweeteners, which are important to many in managing their weight, need to be examined carefully in terms of lifetime use."