When you want a hint of sweetness without the calories, you might turn to an artificial sweetener such as sucralose. It's made by replacing three hydrogen-oxygen groups in the sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms. The final product is a calorie- and carb-free ingredient that's intensely sweet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reviewed research on sucralose and determined that it's safe for human consumption. However, one study posed questions that caused the Centers for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, to caution consumers about its use.
More than 100 studies conducted during 20 years of research have determined that sucralose is safe for human consumption, according to Food Insight. Studies looked at cancer risks, developmental abnormalities and effects on the nervous system. However, a study published in 2008 in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that rats fed sucralose for 12 weeks had adverse side effects including a decrease in the beneficial bacteria in their intestines. In 2013, CSPI downgraded sucralose from "safe" to "caution" because of an unpublished study by an independent Italian laboratory that concluded that the sweetener had caused leukemia in mice. The executive director of CSPI noted in a news release that the study results warranted further scrutiny of the sweetener.