A harmful chemical that breaks up DNA is developed when consuming a widely used sweetener, latest research indicates.

New evidence shows that the popular sweetener ‘sucralose’ is genotoxic and can trigger the development of numerous health complications.

Researchers have found that multiple fat-soluble compounds are produced in the gut after sucralose ingestion, including sucralose-6-acetate.

First author Professor Susan Schiffman said: “Our new work establishes that sucralose-6-acetate is genotoxic.

“We also found that trace amounts of sucralose-6-acetate can be found in off-the-shelf sucralose, even before it is consumed and metabolised.”

She added: “To put this in context, the European Food Safety Authority has a threshold of toxicological concern for all genotoxic substances of 0.15 micrograms per person per day.

“Our work suggests that the trace amounts of sucralose-6-acetate in a single, daily sucralose-sweetened drink exceed that threshold. And that’s not even accounting for the amount of sucralose-6-acetate produced as metabolites after people consume sucralose.”

During the study, the team of scientists carried out several in vitro experiments exposing blood cells to sucralose-6-acetate.

Professor Schiffman noted: “In short, we found that sucralose-6-acetate is genotoxic, and that it effectively broke up DNA in cells that were exposed to the chemical.

“Other studies have found that sucralose can adversely affect gut health, so we wanted to see what might be happening there.”

She evaluated: “When we exposed sucralose and sucralose-6-acetate to gut epithelial tissues – the tissue that lines your gut wall – we found that both chemicals cause leaky gut.

“A leaky gut is problematic, because it means that things that would normally be flushed out of the body in faeces are instead leaking out of the gut and being absorbed into the bloodstream.”

She concluded: “We found that gut cells exposed to sucralose-6-acetate had increased activity in genes related to oxidative stress, inflammation and carcinogenicity.

“This work raises a host of concerns about the potential health effects associated with sucralose and its metabolites.

“It’s time to revisit the safety and regulatory status of sucralose, because the evidence is mounting that it carries significant risks.

“If nothing else, I encourage people to avoid products containing sucralose. It’s something you should not be eating.”

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