Artificial sweeteners may promote diabetes, claim scientists
Artificial sweeteners may contribute to soaring levels of diabetes, according to a controversial study that suggests the additives could exacerbate the problem they are meant to tackle.
Researchers in Israel found that artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks and other foods can disrupt healthy microbes that live in the gut, leading to higher blood sugar levels – an early sign of diabetes.
Sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame and sucralose are widespread in western diets and are often used to cut calories or prevent tooth decay. The additives are so common that scientists behind the latest study called for a reassessment of the “massive usage” of the chemicals.
“Our findings suggest that non-caloric artificial sweeteners may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight,” the authors write in the journal Nature.
Eran Elinav, a senior author on the study at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, said that while the evidence against the sweeteners was too weak to change health policies, he had decided to give them up.
But the study has left many experts unconvinced. The findings draw largely on tests of just one sweetener in mice, raising doubts about their relevance for people, and to other sweeteners. Large studies in humans have found that sugar substitutes can help people maintain a healthy weight and protect against diabetes.
“This new report must be viewed very cautiously,” said Stephen O’Rahilly, director of the Metabolic Diseases Unit at Cambridge University, “as it mostly reports fin Continue reading