Saccharin has been used for over a century now and is considered to be one of the best available synthetic sweeteners. Some of the key advantages of saccharin is that it is about 500 times sweeter than sucrose, but doesn’t contain any calories and is useful for diabetic patients.
Saccharin is used in a wide range of food items include baked foods, chewing gums, canned drinks, candy, salad dressing, dessert toppings, beverages, etc. In addition it is also used in vitamins and pharmaceutical products and some cosmetic products. However, this artificial sweetener has been highly controversial and has been associated with several risk factors to the general health.
Dangers Of Saccharin
With studies conducted way back in 1977, it was found that saccharin was associated with bladder tumor in rats. However due to strong public opposition and lack of availability of an alternative, the use of the saccharin was continued.
Since then several studies have been conducted to understand the role of saccharin in causing bladder cancer. These studies showed that saccharin consumption did not lead to bladder tumor in humans and that the product was safe to use.
This resulted in the withdrawal of saccharin from the list of potential carcinogenic products, by the National Toxicology Program.However as per a Report by the NTP in 1998 strongly criticized that delisting of Saccharin as a carcinogenic product and concluded that this step would poise a great threat to the health of general public.
Effects Of Saccharin On Health
Saccharin is low in sugar, but sweeter than natural sugar by almost 500 times. For this reason, the positive health benefits associated with consumption of saccharin include,
- Saccharin helps in the process of weight loss. It is used as an artificial sweetener, while it is completely free of any calories. It is hence highly effective in weight loss programs
- Since consumption of saccharin is not associated with increase in the blood sugar levels, this artificial sweetener is also useful for patients with diabetes.
- Saccharin is also recommended in patients with cardiovascular disorders and hypertension, as most of these co morbidities are linked with diabetes.
Studies on the other hand have pointed towards the harmful effects of saccharin on health. One of the most important and threatening negative effect of saccharin on health is its potential risk of developing cancer. Studies in mice have shown that saccharin is carcinogenic and can result in increased risk of developing bladder cancer especially in males.
Side Effects Of Saccharin Use
Currently Saccharin is considered to be the safest artificial sweetener available in the market. As per the Food and Drug Administration, the acceptable intake of saccharin is approximately 5 mg/kg body weight. Hence for a healthy adult with a body weight of 70 kilograms, the acceptable daily intake of saccharin is approximately 350 mg.
In addition to its carcinogenic dangers, saccharin also poises other threats to the health. These include,
- Increased risk of developing allergic reactions. It is believed that the risk of allergic reactions is higher in individuals who are already allergic to sulfa drugs
- Allergic reaction may be associated with respiratory difficulties, skin eruptions, diarrhea, headaches, etc
- In addition studies have shown that saccharin may result in muscular dysfunction and irritability, especially in children.