The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five artificial or “nonnutritive” sweeteners for human consumption. Testing is ongoing with all of these products, and their safety is still in question.
Used as an artificial sweetener for more than 100 years, saccharine is more than 200 times sweeter than sucrose, and it doesn't raise blood sugar levels. In the 1970s, it was found to cause cancer in rats and a ban was proposed. Because the effect has not been seen in humans, the product is still in use, but the labels must carry a warning. Saccharine is found in Sweet'N Low, Sweet Twin, and Necta Sweet.
This artificial sweetener is used in thousands of products all over the world. It contains 4 calories per gram, but it is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose, so you don't need much. A can of diet soda typically contains about 225 mg. There are many claims of adverse health effects from the ingestion of aspartame, including headaches, dizziness, anxiety, cramps, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and cancer. Headaches and depression have indeed been shown to occur in people with sensitivities who ingest aspartame. Aspartame isn't safe for people with a rare hereditary disease called phenylketonuria (PKU), and this is indicated on the label. Brain tumors have resulted in rats that ingest aspartame, but studies continue on the correlation between aspartame and human cancer. Dieters have also reported that aspartame increases appetite, especially cravings for carbohydrates. Aspartame is found in NutraSweet and Equal.
Acesulfame Potassium K
Two hundred times sweeter than sucrose, this product is generally used as a flavor enhancer and preservative. It contains the carcinogen methylene chloride, which, with long exposure, causes headaches, nausea, depression, liver and kidney disease, and cancer in humans. It has only undergone one initial testing. Acesulfame potassium K is found in Sunett and Sweet One.
This sweetener is 600 times sweeter than sucrose. It is the most recent addition to the list of artificial sweeteners and is currently used in nearly 5,000 products. Its big draw is that it can be used in baking, whereas other artificial sweeteners cannot. It has 391 calories per 110 grams, but because so little is needed, the amounts are small per serving and do not need to be reported on labels. The product is said to be made from sugar, but that is a bit misleading. Reports indicate it was discovered when scientists were treating sugar with a multitude of chemicals trying to create an insecticide. Adverse symptoms from sucralose consumption include gastrointestinal disorders, skin irritation, chest pain, anxiety, and depression. Sucralose is found in Splenda.
This is a new sweeter version of aspartame, more than 7,000 times sweeter than sucrose. It was developed to be a version of aspartame that is safe for people with PKU. The FDA has given initial approval, but study continues. Neotame is used widely in food manufacturing.