DEBUNKED

Artificial Sweeteners Aren't Bad for You?

Forty years ago, the Food and Drug Administration put out its first smackdown on artificial sweetener. At that time it was an ingredient known as cyclamate, the precursor to aspartame. First appearing on the market in 1951, cyclamate was enthusiastically embraced by food and beverage companies as a more palatable, less metallic alternative to saccharine. Americans, amid their love affair with junk food, ate up the guilt- and calorie-free option. Studies since have linked artificial sweeteners to a variety of malignancies, from deformities to cancer. But are they getting a bad rap? "The fear-mongering and misinformation plaguing the faux-sweetener market seems to be rooted in a common misconception," writes Claire Suddath of Time magazine. "The general consensus in the scientific community is that saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose are harmless when consumed in moderation." Maybe that message will make it to the public in the next 40 years.