Artificial Sweeteners Toxicity study (sucralose)

This seems to be an interesting article regarding artificial sweeteners toxicity

There are a few things about this paper that make me suspicious. The first is the level of the test sweetener required to get any response, see Table 1. The quantities are listed in (mg/mL) which if you don’t think about it, sounds like small amounts. But in fact it is exactly equivalent to g/L (grams per liter). If you put one gram of sucralose in on liter of pre-mixed Huel, you would not be able to swallow any; it would be horrendously, undrinkably sweet. (Sucralose is >300x as sweet as sugar, so imagine putting 300g of sugar into a liter of drink.)

In other words, the concentrations tested, even at 1mg/mL, is for most of the tested sweeteners, far far higher than would ever appear in a mixed shake. And that’s before the shake is consumed, processed by stomach acids, and moves into the gut.

Second, there’s the effects. Some sweeteners caused the bacteria to fluoresce. Some inhibited fluorescence (damn that’s a hard word to spell). What’s that supposed to indicate? The authors seem to think that any detectable effect is meaningful. But if these little GMO bacteria are supposed to fluoresce in the presence of toxins, what does not fluorescing really mean? Negative toxicity?

Finally, I do not like that they spend so many words talking about every possible negative effect to which any of the sweeteners have been “linked”.

Consumption of artificial sweeteners has been linked with adverse effects such as cancer, weight gain, metabolic disorders, type-2 diabetes and alteration of gut microbiota activity.

The word “linked” is deceptive; most studies are inconclusive and the linkage exists only in the titles of the papers, not in the evidence. But stating it the way they do, gives opportunity to the diet flakes out there to cite this paper, saying, “Sucralose has been linked to cancer[footnote to this paper]”. But that is not a conclusion of this (or any other) paper.


You are right, this is not the Huel use case. Also the linked part is not really scientific. But the first part, where a high enough amount of sucralose does something to the bacteria, is at least interesting. These are never long time tests, and are not done in a human body. We don’t know what happens to similar bacteria, after 5-10+ years of sucralose consumption. Maybe nothing, I can’t tell.