Saccharin not a health threat but may still cause weight gain

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 By


Saccharin-containing products no longer had to be labeled as of 2001, but they may still cause weight gain. Image: Flickr / doctorow / CC-BY-SA

The Environmental Protection Agency has officially stated that saccharin is not a health threat. This comes 10 years after the warning label was removed from saccharin. Though officially saccharin is not a health threat, research indicates that artificial sweeteners may still lead to weight gain.

EPA says saccharin not a health threat

Saccharin is a petroleum-derivative artificial sweetener. It was originally discovered in 1878 and became widespread during World War I and after World War II. During the 1980s, saccharin was believed to cause cancer. Saccharin was also regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as a toxic waste product. In 2001, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in California de-listed saccharin as a cancer-causing product. The EPA officially removed saccharin from the toxic products list on Dec. 17, 2010.

Saccharin not a health threat means less reporting

When the EPA announced that saccharin is not a health threat, it removed many of the reporting requirements for companies that use the chemical. When saccharin or its derivative products are disposed of now, they are regulated like any other biologically neutral product rather than a dangerous product.

Saccharin could lead to weight gain

Though it is official that saccharin’s not a health threat, that doesn’t mean it is a healthy product. Several studies, including one at Perdue University, found that rats eating saccharin-laced diets gained more weight than rats eating an equal amount of sugar. Similar studies on humans found that humans drinking and eating foods with saccharin instead of sugar tended to gain more weight. It is theorized that the body chemistry mismatch of tasting sweet without the calories re-programs brain chemistry. While cutting down or cutting out sugar does help individuals lose weight, switching to saccharin or artificial sweeteners, even if it is not a health threat, could lead to weight gain.


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