Saccharin is an artificial, chemical sweetener used as a sugar substitute in various foods and beverages. It was created in 1879 by researchers at Johns Hopkins University who were working on coal tar derivatives. Saccharin has been used in foods since 1900.
Saccharin is a synthetic compound that is made by processing a variety of different chemical compounds. For example, one type of saccharin is produced by making anthranilic acid, a type of amino acid, react with nitrous acid, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and then ammonia. There are several compounds that can be subjected to different reactions to create different forms of saccharin.
Saccharin is more than 300 times sweeter than sugar, but contains far fewer calories. It has become a favorite alternative for those trying to lose weight as well as diabetics.
Saccharin is used in foods as a low-calorie substitute for sugar. It can be found in many tabletop sweeteners added to tea, coffee, milk shakes, smoothies, and other beverages. It is also commonly added to candies, canned fruits, chewing gums, and jams, as well as baked goods, dessert toppings, and salad dressings.
Products with saccharin are often marketed as sugar-free products for diabetics and weight-conscious people.
The safety of saccharin has been a controversial subject of research for quite some time.
Saccharin has been known to cause bladder cancer in rats under experimental laboratory conditions. For years foods containing saccharin had to have a warning label that stated consuming saccharin may cause cancer. However, further studies failed to yield any clear evidence of a risk of bladder cancer in humans who consume normal amounts of saccharin. The warning label on products containing saccharin was removed in the year 2000.
Furthermore, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has confirmed that saccharin does not pose any health risk in humans.
Saccharin is widely regarded as a safe and effective sugar substitute, helpful for diabetics and those trying to lose or maintain their body weight, since it cuts down on calories while maintaining sweetness.