In 1879, while developing new food preservatives a young Johns Hopkins chemistry research assistant accidentally discovered that one of the organic compounds he was testing was intensely sweet. He named it "saccharum", the Greek word for sugar. He further learned that it passed through the body unchanged and was thus a safe artificial sweetener for diabetics (Anderson, 1995). Similar sugar substitutes are used today.
Saccharin, which is also known as ortho-sulpho benzimide, is a white crystalline solid derived form coal tar. Them chemical formula is known as C6H4CONHSO2 ("Saccharin", 1999). In 1977, saccharin was banned in Canada, but it has been kept on the market in the United States ("Saccharin", 2000). It may be legal in the United States, but warning labels are necessary on saccharin-containing foods ("Saccharin", 2000).
In 1997, a group of scientists urged the federal agency to keep the artificial on its list of cancer-causing agents (CSPI, 1997). The National Toxicology Program, NTP, said that declaring saccharin sage would, "result in greater exposure to this probable carcinogen in tens of millions of people If saccharin is even a weak carcinogen, this unnecessary additive would pose an intolerable risk to the public," (CSPI, 1997). They felt that even if it is weak, it still is a carcinogen.
Samuel Epstein, a professor of environmental medicine at Illinois Medical Center in Chicago said, "In light of the many animal and human...