Chemical found in widely used sweetener breaks up DNA

A new study finds a chemical formed when we digest a widely used sweetener is "genotoxic," meaning it breaks up DNA. The chemical is also found in trace amounts in the sweetener itself, and the finding raises questions about how the sweetener may contribute to health problems.

At issue is sucralose, a widely used artificial sweetener. Previous work by the same research team established that several fat-soluble compounds are produced in the gut after sucralose ingestion. One of these compounds is sucralose-6-acetate.

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 metabolized."

Susan Schiffman, corresponding author of the study and adjunct professor in the joint department of biomedical engineering at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"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," Schiffman says. "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."

For the study, researchers conducted a series of in vitro experiments exposing human blood cells to sucralose-6-acetate and monitoring for markers of genotoxicity.

"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," Schiffman says.

The researchers also conducted in vitro tests that exposed human gut tissues to sucralose-6-acetate.

"Other studies have found that sucralose can adversely affect gut health, so we wanted to see what might be happening there," Schiffman says. "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.' Basically, they make the wall of the gut more permeable. The chemicals damage the 'tight junctions,' or interfaces, where cells in the gut wall connect to each other.

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

The researchers also looked at the genetic activity of the gut cells to see how they responded to the presence of sucralose-6-acetate.

"We found that gut cells exposed to sucralose-6-acetate had increased activity in genes related to oxidative stress, inflammation and carcinogenicity," Schiffman says.

"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."

Journal reference:
  • Schiffman, S. S., et al. (2023) Toxicological and pharmacokinetic properties of sucralose-6-acetate and its parent sucralose: in vitro screening assays. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part B.


  1. Brandon Alloe Brandon Alloe United States says:

    You can toss out your studies if you look at my body. I have used Splenda several year. No leaky gut issues. I think this leaky gut thing is a bunch of ...

  2. Michele Green Michele Green United States says:

    So you tested this on unborn babies?  What happened to the babies once your experiment was over?

  3. Tina Simmons Tina Simmons United States says:

    R U kidding me don't eat this?! How about DONT SELL IT TO US CUZ KIDS ARE EATING TOXIC STUFF ALL DAY LONG CUZ U KEEP SELLING IT TO THEM LIKE RITZ, POP TARTS, SKITTLES, U NAME IT!!! Leaders in this country disgust me & frankly I'm shocked that in order to eat healthy & make sure I don't ingest toxic things from the food they sell, I gotta move to Europe! It's not far off from a 3rd world country no?!! Camt drink water in Mexico & can't eat anything in America or it'll kill you! Big biz & the leadership along w/the govt are ruining this entire country!! Morals should ALWAYS BE THE LAW FOR ANY COUNTRY NOT MONEY!! We still allow animal testing in places big biz sells tlegere it's legal like China! L'Oreal is one of em & it sickens me! I thot SeaWorld shut down the whale exhibit long ago but nope not even close. This HAS TO STOP WAKE UP PPL!! Every other popular beauty product Americans use haas known carcinogens in it thus European leaders remove it from the market. What does America's leaders do? NOTHING KEEP SELLING IT TO MAINLY KIDS NO LESS! Then they launch some over weight or obese kids marketing campaign to make u think they care just like the recent vape campain. They did that cuz cigs is a HIGE BIZ not cuz they care one bit about kids vaping or kids being over weight & dying from complications around it. I'm so tired of this country! Get a clue stop buying the crap & going to shows where it don't take aa genius to figure out the whales are being held captive in aaan inhumane enclosure! Enough Already !!!!!! 🤬☠️👎

    • Leslie Richardson Leslie Richardson United States says:

      Kinda all over the place, trying to cover everything, but absolutely! We the people have to wake up and start paying attention. Stop allowing our government officials to keep getting rich off us... jeopardizing our health and our freedoms for their pockets.
      Many years ago, a new product had to be tested vigorously before it was allowed to be sold. Now, nothing. After years of people using a product, the adverse reactions appear...then we are just warned. The product isn't removed from shelves or anything.
      And, Mr. "I've been using it for years", not everyone is affected in the same time frame or in the same way. Look at smokers....they all said they had been doing it for years and they weren't affected when the warnings came out for all of the illnesses caused by that. Now, where are they? Most have, at the least, emphysema, if not dead.

    • brian fabbri brian fabbri Canada says:

      Yes it's hard to discern or separate what is true and real research and science these days... So I plot this article and this forum.   The big business food giants will continue to deceive us... It's all of a profits.. human beings are simply puppets to make cash.... Sad isn't it.   Will continue to fight and educate ourselves for a better and healthier lifestyle

    • Steve Reston Steve Reston United States says:

      Very well written comment!
      Yes they tell us how bad things are for us but they keep selling them in the stores take hydrogenated products like peanut butter which many kids eat along with myself as an adult.
      Also they make all these lists about the dirty dozen foods that are bad for us yet they just keep selling them.

    • David Poe, BA, BSN, MS, RN David Poe, BA, BSN, MS, RN United States says:

      Whoa! Research like this informs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who may then do more research to confirm problems with food and drugs sold on the market. The whole process involves learning new things from research. Previously "healthy" foods may be found later to be harmful then removed from shelves. That's our government at work protecting you and me. The British equivalent of the US FDA has stricter standards for food and drug safety, than the US, in some cases.

    • nadia gruner nadia gruner United States says:

      I created an account just to give you a thumbs up. The US government doesn’t work like in Europe. In Europe NO lobbying, no guns. But if the government doesn’t protects human life it will be destroyed. They, citizens ,  are being taken 51 percent of what their salary. If the people dies the government will be in trouble, no more money coming in. Therefore, it’s considerate. In America, obviously life is cheap. Children get killed while studying, I have never knew European with cancer until I was  35 years old. A woman in Germany. Here in America, a lot of people has it. It’s insanity. I keep eating what grows on branches and cows doesn’t neither any other creature.
      In Spain Desantos would have been sentence with life in prison. Here in America he is a hero with his deat pesticides.
      I am just fed up. But they are so many people in America, life is cheap. When the numbers will start to drop drastically, then they’ll never allowed full auto weapon, or cancérogène chemicals in food or otherwise.
      When only a few will remain, they ll move. At the mean time we must educate ourselves , pay attention and listen to learn about what not to do. Why in America they allow chips? In a carcinogène etc etc… so fed up myself. But the best remédie to this is to keep educating yourself and don’t fall for easy and quick meals. Make your own. If it’s to good to be true,

    • Dan Shannon Dan Shannon United States says:

      Well said and also very logical and unfortuanitly very true. Too bad common sense for huge problems is not felt,understood,,thought about and then mak

    • Dmitry P Dmitry P United States says:

      That's how it works: you read something provocative on internet and if you "like" it you trust it without any doubt)
      Europe? haha good luck! But I don't want the government to decide for me what is good and what is bad. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND FREEDOM! You people don't understand what it is and do not appreciate it until you loose it, until it's too late.

  4. Brandon Alloe Brandon Alloe United States says:

    I disagree. First of all, there is no such thing as leaky gut. Second, if this alters DNA maybe that is why some people are immune to COVID. Third, the only difference in Sucrose and Sucralose is that one oxygen atom is replaced by a chlorine atom. That chemical compound theoretically should appear in tap water. These scientists need to lay of cocaine.

    • Jessica Iardino Jessica Iardino United States says:


    • Aerial Dancer Aerial Dancer United States says:

      First off, yes! Leaky gut is a real condition. Once a spot in your intestinal wall wears out it does leave an open wound letting food leak out of your intestines. Once those spots heal your left with diverticula pockets that food can get stuck in.
      Also chlorine isn't a basic element. Can you please explain what you mean?

    • Sam B Sam B United States says:

      Hydrogen peroxide has just one atom more than water. Do you see anyone drinking that?

      Ozone has just one more atom than oxygen. Would you like to try breathing just that?

      Please stop flaunting your D in high school chemistry, it's giving everyone a headache.

    • David Singer David Singer United States says:

      Even slight alterations in a drug can make it work completely different. Yes it could make it toxic. Just cause chlorine is in it doesn't mean anything.

    • David Poe, BA, BSN, MS, RN David Poe, BA, BSN, MS, RN United States says:

      Based on your comments, you do not appear to have any professional medical  or scientific training. Where do we begin with your comments? I'll just say this: There is no scientific evidence that anyone is immune from COVID. We only get natural immunity through catching COVID, producing antibodies, and living to tell about it. Or you can get up to date on your COVID vaccines, which helps your body produce COVID antibodies. Please do so if you haven't,to protect yourself, your family, and your neighbors.

      • Aly Bayt Aly Bayt Australia says:

        Annnnd then theres this guy... Comes out strong with an air of confidence amd wisdom to bestow upon the meer observers of cause and effect - the uneducated philosophers of critical thought... Follows with a Pfizer commercial like we are the fools. Poor form Mr scholar sir. We've saved all the boosters for your friends n family. Run along now. The adults are trying make sense of how dark, deep and disgustedly wretched your tentacles reach. You fooled many of us... Not once but repeatedly, daily, intentional... Its a conspiracy of epic proportions. Seems like it could be conjured up by the one and only king of lies. Quick ten mins has passed, means your 5mins overdue for booster 6/of 66. Hope a friend is driving you home. 🤭

      • Ha
        jfo1229a F jfo1229a F United States says:

        Okay David Poe BSN!! Sounds like you know best, keep on getting that fake Covid vaccine. Ha ha! You’re a genius!

    • Joe Snapshot Joe Snapshot United States says:

      But it just shows your fathomless ingnorance.

    • Joel Topsom Joel Topsom Australia says:

      I think it's you with the drud issues, at least try and make sense. There are plenty of toxic substances that are similar to non toxic ones. Do you really think you are smarter than the scientists who produced this study.
      Are you gen Z perhaps. Smile

    • Wow
      Nathan Henderson Nathan Henderson United States says:

      You have access to a world of information at your fingertips; yet still chose to come here and prove how naive and uneducated you are….your peers must be very proud of you.

  5. Major Havoc Major Havoc United States says:

    Who could of guessed man-made chemicles that mimic sugar, could be bad for you?

  6. Patrick Harris Patrick Harris United States says:

    Sugar sales must be down.

  7. Mike Trissel Mike Trissel United States says:

    I'm old, I'm fat, I have aches and pains, but so do all my friends. Don't know what your agenda is, but it is not based on reality. Get a real life

  8. Dionysus Dionysus United States says:

    Who funded this study? I can remember the study done on saccharine in the 70's to discredit it was funded by the sugar institute. Regardless whether or not this study is valid, sugar is far worse.

  9. Patti Marquis Patti Marquis Canada says:

    Well it’s time our world has gone to just stop. Leaking gut is real.but eating healthy is real also teaching your family to eat healthy is possible. Go to your doctor find out if you have leaky it probably not good.

  10. Jorge DaCosta Jorge DaCosta United States says:

    New Defense for criminals that they use D.N.A. as evidence. Never seems to amaze me

  11. David Singer David Singer United States says:

    I always thought it was common sense to at least know they're bad for you. Sugar is bad for you so why wouldn't synthetic sugar be any different if not worse.

  12. ookbnuotnizpwz Sal ookbnuotnizpwz Sal United States says:

    Artifical sweeteners are not safe they are made in lab ,mostly discovered by accident, just avoid aspartame,sucralose and such . Dont buy anything with zero sugar because it has sweetners , buy stuff that has no sweetners added. Only sweetners that are good are natural ones and that is Stevia.

    • C B C B United States says:

      For those considering stevia, be aware (although study was done at higher levels & on mice), stevia has been connected lowering levels of testosterone (hormone disruptor)..... haven't seen negative outcomes for monkfruit yet.  

      Due to my sensitivities, it's sugar in moderation for me with no substitutes.

    • Drew Harwell Drew Harwell United States says:

      Any sweetener you buy at the store that says "stevia" on it has sucralose in it.

  13. Dillon Burke Dillon Burke United States says:

    What was the brand they tested? I don't see it listed, these studies are pointless unless they give us this information

  14. Margaret Zacher Margaret Zacher United States says:

    My husband always drank a diet sweetened tea for years.  Now he is in the end stages of Liver Cancer.  I truly believe it had alot to do with it.  If you think you can trick your body by taking these artificial sweetners.  Your body will end up tricking you in the end.  ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS ARE NOT GOOD FOR YOU.  FIGURE THIS OUT.

  15. Dee Dee Dee Dee United States says:

    Sucralose aka Splenda is bad. Years ago, it made me very sick. I was being seen by multiple doctors for seemingly unrelated symptoms who said it was all stress related, because they could not find another explanation.  Finally, a dermatologist said she had seen rashes like I had from artificial sweetener. I don't use artificial sweetener on purpose, but noticed that there was Splenda in my yogurt.  She said -- no -- that's healthy -- it's made from sugar.  I googled "Splenda Rash" and found a list of 30+ symptoms caused by Splenda.  I had 28 of them!!!  Sucralose is in SO MANY foods as well as dental products and medications.  I read every label, eliminated this from my diet, and 3 weeks later, 27 of my symptoms were completely gone! I still suffer from psoriasis, which I personally believe was triggered by the Sucralose.

  16. Andrew Chow Andrew Chow Canada says:

    Virtually every chemical, including salt, will damage DNA if they are exposed directly. It was bad science in the 70s (LSD damages DNA), and it's bad science now. You need to expose the cells in their natural environment to sucralose, not to in vitro cells. Even carrot juice damages cells in vitro.

  17. K T K T United States says:

    Fast food causing heart issues,  artificial sweetener breaking up DNA.... These are side affects of the COVID vaccine. All of a sudden it's fast food or artificial sweetener to blame. Coincidence? Hmmm

  18. Naudia Angelica Naudia Angelica United States says:

    Is there a link or lead to the actual study? Many of the things stated in this article are in need of more information. I have seen a lot of research on sucralose and the massive damage it does to the gut. It causes seizures in me, because of the excitotoxic response. This stuff is nasty, and I'm trying to educate my doctors and Jazz pharmaceuticals (because it's in my seizure medication.. take a look at that contraindication..). It would be very helpful to be able to look at the actual study.

  19. Nathan Henderson Nathan Henderson United States says:

    If you think fast food and artificial sweeteners are so good for you; and the Covid vaccine is the evil culprit….why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and make a documentary to prove your are wrong…..I was born with a rare autoimmune disease and if they had not come out with a covid vaccine I would not be alive typing this….I would still be; at only 35 years old hooked up to machines in a medically induced coma with my parents and brothers trying to decide on a daily basis if they should sign papers to pull the plug on me…..COVID is very real and very deadly…you’re complete lack of knowledge and low iq are painfully evident in your singular ignorance post….go work in a hospital as a volunteer in one of the Countless Covid units worldwide so you can buck your warped reality and narrative you thrive on….Wake Up and see Covid is nothing to joke about or take lightly….you obviously failed basic history or you would have been smart enough to at least mention the year 1918 and “Spanish Flu”…..go back to your hole you crawled out of….and stop killing people with your lack of knowledge about virology/medicine/science… are a walking bullet and undoubtedly killed several people you didn’t know simply because you were lucky enough to be born with DNA that has a profoundly higher shielded tolerance to Covid….don’t worry I’m sure you’ll find out soon enough your DNA isn’t bullet proof when you die of unnatural causes due to the next pandemic that will inevitably come about….that won’t be Covid and your immune system won’t be able to handle ;)

  20. Grace Tsai Grace Tsai United States says:

    Sucralose, unlike sugar or sucrose, does not get absorbed into your body or bloodstream. So there is no chance your red blood cells will bathe in sucralose. Sucralose taken by mouth, is excreted intact in the stool. The main downside of taking too much sucralose in one day can is diarrhea.

  21. Wa Hi Wa Hi United States says:

    I think the whole sugar substitute movement  is a farce.  Without regard to what it's labeled sweetener in excess is unhealthy.   Eat less, live healthier.

  22. Laertes Amihan Laertes Amihan Philippines says:

    If its naturally produce,,,it is good for the health because it is physiologically and naturally process inside our body. If it is not naturally produced then problems come in.

  23. GiGi Martin GiGi Martin United States says:

    It's sadly clear that America, esp govt/FDA, only cares about the money the lobbyists line their pockets with in lieu of its American citizens who pay their exorbitant salaries and blindly trust they will do their jobs for us. Also, any time I've tried to tell my family/friends to stop drinking their diet sodas, for example, they refuse and always give the standard reply...everything is bad for us, so...

  24. Bob Jones Bob Jones United States says:

    In vitro micronucleus studies are not valid indicators of safety. Some of the largest contract research organizations now no longer recommend we do the study at all during develoment because it is so problematic. Instead we go straight to the more accurate studies that would be needed to clear a bad in vitro MN study. Literally a third of all approved drugs have failed this test, but been shown to be clean in better studies.

    The biggest news here is the author is too lazy to do proper studies before reporting results.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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