Health effects of artificial sweeteners: Where do we stand?

(CNN)Sugar — how can something so good be bad for us?

Actually, it’s not, if you keep to the newest dietary guidelines recently announced by the USDA: only 10 teaspoons of sugar a day for the average person. Unfortunately, that equals just one 16-ounce bottle of regular soda.

    Most Americans eat much more sugar than that — more like 30 to 40 teaspoons a day — and we’ve learned just how unhealthy that can be. Abundant added sugar is now linked to a host of health issues: obesity, chronic inflammation, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, even cancer.

    To satisfy our sweet tooth, many of us turn to the fake stuff — artificial sweeteners. There are just five approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States: acesulfame potassium (sold as Sunett and Sweet One), aspartame (sold as Equal, Nutrasweet and Sugar Twin), neotame (sold as Newtame), saccharin (sold as Sweet’N Low, Sweet Twin and Necta Sweet) and sucralose (sold as Splenda). One more, cyclamate, is widely used in more than 100 countries, but banned in the United States.

    But studies continue to find concerns that bear watching. A 2008 study found drinking more than two servings of diet soda a day doubled the risk for kidney decline in women. A 2012 study suggested a possible connection between diet sodas and an increased risk for vascular events. If you use a ton of sweetener — more than 1680 milligrams a day, and that’s a lot — you could have a somewhat higher risk of bladder cancer. And several studies have discovered that daily consumption of diet soda may be linked to metabolic syndrome — a sort of prediabetes — and Type 2 diabetes, perhaps because it alters people’s gut bacteria.

    Oh, and for the record, a 2013 review says there is still evidence that diet soda helps with weight loss.

    2016: Those pink, blue and yellow packets are probably fine (for now)

    So where does this leave us? The FDA feels you can be pretty darn sure that a moderate dose of the artificial stuff won’t give you cancer. If you’re a heavy consumer –and that’s a lot of sweetener — that’s another story.

    As for connections to kidney or cardio problems and weight loss (or gain), stay tuned. We’re sure more studies proving (and disproving) those concerns are on their way.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/18/health/where-do-we-stand-artificial-sweeteners/index.html