Cyclamate is an artificial sweetener that is 30-50 times sweeter than sugar, making it the least potent of the commercially available artificial sweeteners. Its sweetness depends on its concentration but does not increase linearly with concentration. It was discovered in 1937, at the University of Illinois by graduate student Michael Sveda. It is less expensive than most other sweeteners, including sucralose, and is stable under heating.
Some have noted that cyclamate leaves an unpleasant aftertaste, although its aftertaste is generally less than that of saccharin or acesulfame potassium. It is often used synergistically with other sweeteners, particularly saccharin—a mixture of 10 parts cyclamate to 1 part saccharin is commonly used and masks the off-tastes of both sweeteners.
Whether cyclamate has adverse side effects on humans is controversial. Some studies have suggested that very high doses of cyclamate may be associated with bladder cancer or testicular atrophy in some animals, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned cyclamate from food products. However, others argue that cyclamate is safe at normal levels of usage, and it is approved as a sweetener in more than 55 other countries.
As in the case of many other artificial sweeteners, the sweetness of cyclamate was discovered by accident. Michael Sveda was working in a lab on the synthesis of anti-fever medication. He put his cigarette down on the lab bench and when he put it back in his mouth he discovered the sweet taste of cyclamate.
The patent for cyclamate was purchased by DuPont but later sold to Abbott Laboratories which undertook the necessary studies and submitted a New Drug Application in 1950. Abbott intended to use cyclamate to mask the bitterness of certain drugs such as antibiotics and pentobarbital. In the U.S. in 1958, it was designated GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe).
Cyclamate was marketed in tablet form for use by diabetics as an alternative tabletop sweetener, as well as in a liquid form. One such product was named 'Sucaryl' and is still available in non-US markets. In the European Union, it is also known under the E number (additive code) E952.
Cyclamate is the sodium or calcium salt of cyclamic acid (cyclohexanesulfamic acid). It is prepared by the sulfonation of cyclohexylamine, by reacting cyclohexylamine with either sulfamic acid or sulfur trioxide.
In 1966, a study reported that some intestinal bacteria could desulfonate cyclamate to produce cyclohexylamine, a compound suspected to have some chronic toxicity in animals. Further research resulted in a 1969 study which found the common 10:1 cyclamate:saccharin mixture to increase the incidence of bladder cancer in rats. The released study showed that eight out of 240 rats fed a mixture of saccharin and cyclamates, at levels of humans ingesting 350 cans of diet soda per day, developed bladder tumors. Other studies implicated cyclohexylamine in testicular atrophy in mice (see below).
On October 18, 1969, the Food and Drug Administration citing the Delaney Amendment, banned the sale of cyclamate in the United States, and the United Kingdom followed suit the next year. Abbott Laboratories claimed that its own studies were unable to reproduce the 1969 study's results, and in 1973, Abbott petitioned the FDA to lift the ban on cyclamate. This petition was eventually denied in 1980, by FDA Commissioner Jere Goyan. Abbott Labs, together with the Calorie Control Council (a political lobby representing the diet foods industry), filed a second petition in 1982. Although the FDA has stated that a review of all available evidence does not implicate cyclamate as a carcinogen in mice or rats, cyclamate remains banned from food products in the United States. Currently, the petition is not being actively considered.
Cyclamate is approved as a sweetener in more than 55 countries. For example, the brand-name beverage sweetener Sweet'N Low, which contains only dextrose, saccharin, cream of tartar, and calcium silicate in the United States, contains cyclamate in Canada (where saccharin is banned except for diabetic usage). Similarly, SugarTwin(R), the brand-name sweetener containing cyclamate in Canada, contains saccharin in the United States.
One reported effect in animal studies (mice and primates) is irreversible testicular atrophy and an apparent impact on seminal vesicle function. However, possible negative impacts on male reproductive ability and/or function may lie outside the scope of committees tasked to determine the safety of a product based only on its expected impact on life expectancy and/or cancer rates.
Since cyclamates appear to affect cells involved in the production of spermatozoa, the question has been raised as to whether they may also be capable of damaging male reproductive DNA. There does not yet seem to be any direct evidence either for or against this.
Cyclamate in sweetener brands
Cyclamate may be found in the following sweetener brands:
- Assugrin (Switzerland, Brazil)
- SugarTwin (Canada)
In addition, cyclamate has been added to Coca-Cola Zero (in Austria, Greece, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Mexico).
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Inhorn, S.L., and L.F. Meisner. Irresponsibility of Cyclamate Ban. Science 167(924) (1970): 1436.
- Kellen R.H. Cyclamate Sweeteners. Journal of the American Medical Association. 237(15) (April 11, 1977): 1558.
- Lerner, K. Lee, and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. Detroit: Gale, 2004. ISBN 0787675547.
- Mitchell, Helen (ed.). Sweeteners and Sugar Alternatives in Food Technology. Oxford: Blackwell Pub., 2006. ISBN 978-1405134347
All links retrieved June 23, 2022.
- Cyclohexanesulfamic acid, monosodium salt. EnvironmentalChemistry.com.
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