Expert Opinions - Saccharin

Scientists/Regulators/Health Groups Support Saccharin's Safety

The extensive research on saccharin has been reviewed by many international scientists, including a wide range of British, Canadian, German, Swiss, Scandinavian and American researchers, and by health groups interested in low-calorie sweeteners. These reviews have led to significant statements in support of saccharin. Comments include:

Health Groups

"Substituting non-nutritive sweeteners for sugars added to foods and beverages may help people reach and maintain a healthy body weight – as long as the substitution doesn’t lead to eating additional calories later as compensation. For people with diabetes, non-nutritive sweeteners used alone or in foods and beverages remain an option and when used appropriately can aid in glucose control."

— American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association, "Nonnutritive Sweeteners: Current Use and Health Perspectives," 2012.

"Thus, the consumption of acesulfame potassium, aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and neotame within acceptable daily intakes is safe during pregnancy."

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Formerly American Dietetic Association), "Position of the American Dietetic Association: Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners," 2004.

"Several years ago, experiments on rats suggested that saccharin might cause cancer. Since then, however, sudies of primates and humans have shown no increased risk of cancer from either saccharin or aspartame."

— American Cancer Society, 1996 Dietary Guidelines

"The Council on Scientific Affairs recommends that the AMA support the moratorium on the saccharin ban, since the evidence of its carcinogenicity in humans has not been forthcoming"

— American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs report, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, November 8, 1985

"At current intake levels saccharin is assumed safe for the general public and is approved for use in more than 90 countries"

— American Dietetic Association "Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners" position statement, July 1993

"Evidence gathered from the numerous animal and human studies of saccharin does not suggest that there is any significant risk to the human population from the normal use of this sweetener. ACSH believes that saccharin should be regarded as a safe food ingredient."

— American Council on Science and Health report, "Low-Calorie Sweeteners," March 1993

"Common sense dictates that if there is any cancer risk from saccharin consumption in ‘normal’ quantities by humans, it is negligible and can be ignored."

— Members of the British Medical Association were advised in the British Medical Journal

"The slight risk (if any) of saccharin is more than offset by the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes."

— One of the several conclusions agreed upon by scientists attending the Conference on Sugar Substitutes, sponsored by the European Research Group for Oral Biology (ERGOB) in Geneva, Switzerland, 1978

"The major benefits of saccharin are an improved quality of life, low cost, and stability at warm temperatures. A small risk for bladder cancer continues to be found in male rats exposed to high doses of saccharin. However, epidemiologic studies show no evidence of a carcinogenic effect in man."

— American Diabetes Association, July/August 1987

"Artificially sweetened beverages and desserts have offered an acceptable alternative to the life of restrictions forced on a diabetic child . . . Parents of diabetics are concerned that in a world without an artificial sweetener for medicines, for cooking and baking the all important birthday cakes and holiday treats, for sodas and snacks, our children will now have an even more difficult medical, social and emotional adjustment."

— Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, statement submitted for the Hearing Record to the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, May 9, 1979

"With currently available data, the Society still believes the benefits of saccharin use far outweigh its alleged risks."

— American Society of Bariatric Physicians, March 21, 1985

"For people who are interested in weight control, and others who must watch what they eat for health reasons, saccharin makes life easier."

— Lois Lindauer, founder and international director, The Diet Workshop, May 17, 1979

Regulators

"The actual risk, if any, of saccharin to humans still appears to be slight."

— Frank Young, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, April 2, 1985

"Based on the results of numerous epidemiological studies, the conclusions of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and over eight decades of consumption without evidence related to human disease, it can be concluded that the evidence is inadequate to suggest that saccharin consumption may significantly increase the risk of bladder cancer in humans. Therefore, the majority view of toxicologists is that saccharin at low doses does not pose a health risk for humans."

— Health and Welfare Canada, Health Protection Branch, December 5, 1991

"The Committee accepted that on the basis of data reviewed to date, it would be inappropriate to consider the bladder tumours induced in male rats by sodium saccharin to be relevant to the assessment of toxicological hazards to humans."

— World Health Organization's Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, 1993

"Saccharin remains a vitally important substance for many Americans who depend on it as a sugar substitute. Though we have developed other sweeteners, none duplicates all of its particular virtues, and none is a complete substitute for it."

— Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman, Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, April 1985

"Epidemiological studies have also not established any evidence that bladder cancer in man is associated with saccharin intake."

— European Economic Communities, "Report of the Scientific Committee for Food on Sweeteners," December 11, 1987

Scientists

"Based on the evaluation of the NCI/NTP data base plus numerous other studies, it is clear that some chemicals that cause cancer in rodent models pose little or no hazard for humans, sodium saccharin being a classic example."

— Boorman, Maronpot and Eustis, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, in a 1994 paper published in Toxicologic Pathology.

"As far as scientists were concerned, for instance, a 1981 epidemiologic study put to rest a suggestion that saccharine (sic) can cause bladder cancer--one of the few cases in which epidemiology had managed to put an end to a suspected association."

— From a July 14, 1995 article in Science, "Epidemiology Faces Its Limits."

"Based on mechanism and dose, the effect of saccharin appears to be confined to rats, and is not anticipated to be a factor in humans. This fits with the extensive epidemiological data which has thus far not shown any significant relationship between artificial sweetener ingestion and the development of bladder cancer."

— Dr. Samuel Cohen, University of Nebraska Medical Center, in a presentation of his research at the annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, April 5-9, 1992

"The cancer risk of the carbohydrates that saccharin replaces are (sic) several hundred times greater than the (alleged) cancer risk for saccharin."

— Dr. Morris Cranmer, a noted toxicologist and former director of the National Center for Toxicological Research of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who was assigned the task by former FDA Commissioner Kennedy of evaluating the risks associated with saccharin use, in Saccharin, 1980

"We judge that most readers will find the case against saccharin unimpressive."

— Editorial comment in The Lancet, a British medical journal, September 17, 1977

"In the total study group, there was no evidence of increased risk with long-term use of AS (artificial sweeteners) in any form or with use that began decades ago.

— Preliminary results of the largest-ever bladder cancer study (9,000 individuals), conducted in the United States by the National Cancer Institute, December 1979

"Ingestion of non-nutritive sweeteners, at least at the moderate dietary levels reported by our patient sample, is not associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer."

— Dr. Irving Kessler, John Hopkins University, U.S.A., who compared saccharin and cyclamate consumption among 519 bladder cancer patients with a similar number of individuals without the disease, 1978

"The available laboratory data suggest that saccharin, in normal human use, is not carcinogenic. . . There is, at present, no epidemiologic evidence to suggest an increase in bladder cancer in the U.S."

— Benjamin L. Van Duuren, Institute of Environmental Medicine, New York University Medical Center, reported in the Journal of Environmental Pathology and Toxicology, 1980

"Saccharin is not a carcinogen. Period. Certainly not to man."

— Concluding remarks of Dr. Michael B. Shimkin, University of California School "... of Medicine at San Diego, at the International Study Center for Environmental Health Sciences' symposium, "An Academic Review of the Safety Assessment of Artificial Sweeteners," May 13, 1981

"...the present level of exposure of humans to saccharin, through its use as a food additive, presents an insignificant cancer risk."

— Report of an international panel of scientists which met at Duke University Medical Center in May 1983 to review relevant research and assess the safety of saccharin

"Thus, saccharin produces profound biochemical and physiological changes in the rat at high doses which do not occur in humans under normal patterns of use. . . . The appearance of tumors in rats seems to be a species- and organ-specific phenomenon for which there is at present no explanation."

— Report of an international panel of scientists which met at Duke University Medical Center in May 1983 to review relevant research and assess the safety of saccharin 

"No chemical additive for food has been tested in as many laboratories, for as long a period, in as many species of animals (including man) and in successive generations, and yet has been found to be as innocuous as saccharin."

— Bernard Oser, Ph.D., noted toxicologist and former president and director of the Food and Drug Research Laboratories from his study, "Highlights in the History of Saccharin Toxicology," published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, April/May 1985

"Few chemicals have been studied epidemiologically to the same extent as artificial sweeteners have been. The remarkable approximation to unity of the summary relative risk from all studies is impressive, and one wonders how many common foodstuffs would be found on such testing to be as safe as that."

— Robert W. Morgan, M.D., Senior Physician Epidemiologist, Environmental Health Associates, in his review of epidemiologic studies of artificial sweeteners published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, April/May 1985

"The use of artificial sweeteners [saccharin and/or cyclamate] either in beverages or as tabletop sweeteners was not associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer."

— J. M. Piper, of FDA's Center for Drugs and Biologics, and associates G. M. Matanoski and J. Tonascia, who investigated risk factors for bladder cancer in 173 matched pairs of women, aged 20 to 49, American Journal of Epidemiology, 1986

"But to be harmed by saccharine, one would have to take enough to turn yourself into a giant saccharine crystal."

— Dr. Vincent DeVita, Jr., then director of the National Cancer Institute, from his presentation to an American Cancer Society science writers' forum, March 1988