The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016 stated that over 1.9 billion adults above the age of 18 are overweight. Amongst them, over 650 million are obese. A 2019 report from WHO stated that over 38.2 million children are overweight and suffer from obesity.
Undoubtedly, stevia emerged as a trailblazer among the zero-calorie sweeteners. People switched to stevia sweeteners as they are natural and calorie-free. Moreover, stevia is sweeter than sugar and requires a minimal quantity.
However, stevia consumers raised a few concerns with the product, such as the connection between cancer and stevia, does consumption of stevia causes cancer, the safety of consuming stevia among stevia patients. We, in this article, will resolve all your queries concerning the relation between stevia and cancer.
A Brief about Stevia Sweeteners
People use the leaves of stevia, a plant native to South America, as sweeteners and herbal supplements. Stevia leaves are 250 to 300 sweeter than table sugar and highly used in sweetening beverages such as tea since the 16th century. Presently, as more people are inclining to a healthy lifestyle, they are looking for zero-calorie sweeteners. Therefore, stevia stands as the most popular and most preferred sweetener across the world.
Manufacturers make stevia sweeteners by extracting the compound steviol glycosides from the plant’s leaves and purifying them in removing some of the bitter attributes in the crude extract. The compound has a common backbone, steviol, which includes compounds like stevioside and different forms of rebaudioside. You can avail stevia products in various forms, including liquid drops, powder, and granules.
Stevia products comprise eight glycosides. These glycosides form the sweet components that manufacturers isolate and purify from the leaves of stevia. The glycosides include:
- Rebaudiosides A, C, D, E and F
- Dulcoside A
Among these components, rebaudioside A or reb A and stevioside are the primary components.
Stevia and Cancer: What Research Says
Some research papers concluded that stevia causes cancer due to DNA breakages and chromosome mutations; however, none proposes their studies on humans. A 2002 study stated that a high level of steviol causes a weak mutagenic activity—the amount equivalent to what one might use in 3,000 coffee cups. However, when consumed in an ordinary amount, the toxicity of stevia is “negligible,” as stated by the researchers. No further studies and recent reviews replicated similar results.
Consumption of Stevia Products and Cancer in Humans
To date, researchers have found no evidence that stevia causes cancer when consumed in the right quantities. According to the American Cancer Society, stevia, when consumed in moderate amounts, does cause any harm to the human body. Researchers evaluated the safety of steviol glycosides and concluded that they are safe for both adults and children. Furthermore, a review conducted in 2017 noted that while stevia-derived sweeteners gained wider use. However, no recent studies focused on their long-term effects on cancer.
Stevia in Fighting Cancer
Several studies proved that stevia and stevia products help fight against different cancers. A 2012 study on a glycoside found in stevia helps speed up the death of breast cancer cells in humans. Another study conducted in 2013 states that steviol glycosides have a toxic impact on several other cancer cells, including leukemia, lung and stomach cancer