Debunking the Headlines: Diet Soda (Sucralose-6) is not breaking down your DNA

Non-nutrient (or artificial) sweeteners are not killing you, or at least any more than any other nutrient that you consume. It certainly makes a great headline though:

In the new study, when researchers exposed human blood cells to sucralose-6-acetate, they found that it caused breaks in DNA. This could potentially increase the risk of cancer or other health problems.

We see this constantly, it’s a formula that works for the clicks: 1) Study comes out, 2) Skew headline to get them clicks. This inevitably leads to 3) People parrot headline and draw the wrong conclusion without understanding the context. Which usually leads to 4) me arguing the science with someone fortified by bold text and vertical pixels.

Before we get going, let me give you the TLDR:

This was studied in a petri dish which is drastically different than the human body. Sucralose-6-acetate is a by-product that is found in fractional amounts in sucralose products. The lowest dose of sucralose-6-acetate that caused DNA damage is 900x greater than can be produced in the body. You’re fine, keep to the golden rule: everything in moderation.

For those curious, here’s the study we’re talking about:

Toxicological and pharmacokinetic properties of sucralose-6-acetate and its parent sucralose: in vitro screening assays

Layne Norton has a great video TLDR:

Well, it’s certainly understandable to feel concerned upon hearing that drinking Diet Soda, could potentially have negative effects on your DNA. Our DNA is incredibly important, as it contains all of the genetic information that makes us who we are. However, it’s important to note that this claim may not necessarily be entirely accurate. While this new study has suggested that artificial sweeteners, or a by-product of Sucralose, could potentially damage DNA under certain circumstances, the study bears out that it’s almost impossible if not actually impossible to consume the amount of Sucralose needed to generate enough of the by-product to reach even the lowest observable amount in the study. It’s also worth noting that many other foods and drinks we consume on a daily basis could potentially have similar effects on our DNA. Ultimately, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of what we’re putting into our bodies and to approach any claims regarding potential health risks with a critical eye.

Want to learn more about how to crush your fitness goals? Start here.