Field of Science

Splenda and - wait for it - DDT? You've got to be kidding me

Just when you think the perpetrators of chemophobia (actually this particular case makes chemophobia look like a knight in shining armor) cannot outdo themselves, someone seems to hit a new high.

This time it's "alternative" "medicine" "physician" Joseph Mercola. In a diatribe against Splenda he tosses out this gem:

"Splenda—"Made from Sugar" But More Similar to DDT...

That's right.
The catchy slogan "Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar" has fooled many, but chemically, Splenda is actually more similar to DDT than sugar."
There is no mention of how exactly Splenda is even remotely close to DDT in structure, function or any other conceivable parameter for that matter. I really shouldn't have to do this but here are the structures of the two molecules.

Why in the name of merciful Odin would these be considered similar? Because both of them have chlorines and we all know that chlorine is a toxic gas used in World War 1? I would say then that they share even more hydrogens than chlorines, and hydrogen is of course an inflammable gas, which can only mean that both Splenda and DDT have got to explode when consumed.

Naturally this goes beyond chemophobia and handily ends up way inland in the territory of unadulterated twaddle. Read the entire page if you are craving for that migraine and nausea which you have been longing for. I haven't read the whole thing, and who could blame me for this? A quick look through some of the references reveals the usual egregious howlers (studies extrapolated from rats who have been fed unrealistic doses of the material for an abnormally long period of time etc.) and I have no reason to believe that a more detailed look won't accomplish the same thing.

It strains my imagination to contemplate how even the loopiest of quacks could actually write something like this, let alone sincerely believe it. It's one of those very few times when freedom of speech starts sounding like a bad idea.

H/T: The promising "Chemicals are your Friends" page on Facebook, via Stuart Cantrill.


  1. It just is cringeworthy to hear something like that..
    You know what else has 50% chlorine? Tablesalt! Surely it must be toxic.

    1. Everyone thinks that they are a chemist. I made a cheesecake with splenda and brought it to class and the one nutrition major got on her soapbox preaching that splenda causes liver failure, cancer, and a third eye growing out of your butt. These are the same idiots who think vaccinating your child will make them autistic. Go ahead and eat sugar, more splenda for me.

  2. Unfortunately, it's not suprising that such a claim would be acceptable to many non-scientists. The two molecules have hexagonal shapes, they have Cl's etc. I haven;t read the linked document so I don't know if thee is an agenda or not, but it wouldn't surprise me if laypersons regarded these molecules as very similar (assuming they were draw in the same fashion)

    1. There is no depiction of any chemical structure on the "article". And there is no further explanation of rationale behind the claim of similarity that I can see. If they gave the structure of Spenda, table sugar, and DDT, nobody would possibly think that Spenda is closer to DDT (unless they only looked at the chlorines). Not to say that would be a valid comparison of the molecules in its own right, but that would have at least been some attempt at providing evidence for the claim that is made.

    2. I'm totally unsurprised reading this. I've gone "back and forth" with a couple of individuals over the issue of evolution and the teaching of "creation science" in LA. The same type of reasoning (or really, the lack thereof) is going on there as well.

    3. Actually the sugar here is not a hexagonal form on the right ring, it's a pentagon.

  3. Reading that dude's website is the only ingredient neede for a face full of palm.


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