Can Artificial Sweeteners Really FIGHT Cancer?
For years, Americans have heard reports about the dangers of artificial sweeteners, but a new study claims that saccharin - the main ingredient in Sweet & Low and other similar products - could actually help fight cancer cells.
The study says that saccharin reacts with a certain protein present in aggressive cancer cells.
FoxNews.com reported on the study, which was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Florida College of Medicine.
The protein, called carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX), regulates pH in and around cancer cells, allowing tumors to thrive and potentially metastasize to other parts of the body. It is found in a wide range of aggressive cancers, including breast, lung, liver, prostate, pancreatic and kidney cancer.
“If you disrupt this pH balance via blocking CA IX activity, you can stop these cancer cells from growing and proliferating,” study author Brian Mahon, a graduate research assistant at the University of Florida, told FoxNews.com.
Mahon said the research stemmed from a study from the University of Florence in Italy that suggested saccharin would selectively block the activity of CA IX. He said his team, led by University of Florida’s Dr. Robert McKenna, wanted to further investigate saccharin’s effect in treating cancer.
"It never ceases to amaze me how a simple molecule such as saccharin— something many people put in their coffee every day— may have untapped uses, including as a possible lead compound to target aggressive cancers," McKenna said.
Dr. Marc Siegel gave us his expert opinion on the research this morning on "Fox and Friends," pointing back to the 1970s when reports scared Americans into thinking that saccharin could cause cancer.
Siegel said those concerns were never proven. He cautioned that the new research has only been performed on cancer cells in test tubes, with the next step being mice.
Siegel also explained that this does not mean that you should increase your use of saccharin.
"It is not the Sweet & Low itself. They made a compound that was 1,000 times more powerful than saccharin alone. It's manipulating it chemically and getting it to work against the cancer. This is how we're fighting cancer these days. Taking chemical properties with unexpected results and fighting cancer," said Siegel.
He also pointed out that using saccharin does not help with weight loss because even though you're cutting calories, the sweetener makes you hungrier.
Siegel predicted it will be about five years before this powerful chemical form of saccharin is tested on humans.
Watch his analysis above.