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Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Endocrine Cancers

Question: Sugar vs sugar alcohols re: immune suppression

 Anonymous - Fri Jan 10, 2003 1:27 pm

I notice there has been a lot of research lately regarding the effect sugar has on the immune system. I am just wondering if sugar alcohols such as Maltitol etc. have the same suppressing effect.
Thank you.
 Dr. Tamer Fouad - Fri Jan 10, 2003 2:17 pm

User avatar Dear Martin,
Maltilol is a commonly used sugar alchohol (used as a dietary sweetner). A petition to affirm the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status of maltitol has been accepted for filing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This petition describes the use of maltitol as a flavoring agent, formulation aid, humectant, nutritive sweetener, processing aid, sequestrant, stabilizer and thickener, surface-finishing agent and texturizer. In particular, the petition addresses the use of maltitol at levels of up 99.5% in hard candy and cough drops, 99% in sugar substitutes, 85% in soft candies, 75% in chewing gum, 55% in non-standardized jams and jellies and 30% in cookies and sponge cake.

The safety of maltitol as a food ingredient is substantiated by numerous studies in both humans and animals. The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has reviewed the safety data and concluded that maltitol is safe. JECFA has established an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for maltitol of "not specified," meaning no limits are placed on its use. An ADI "not specified" is the safest category in which JECFA can place a food ingredient. Many countries which do not have their own agencies to review food additive safety adopt JECFA’s decisions.

The Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union (EU) published a comprehensive assessment of sweeteners in 1985, concluding that maltitol is acceptable for use, also without setting a limit on its use.

As with other polyols, maltitol may produce a laxative effect when consumed at very high levels. An information statement similar to the one required for other polyols is recommended in the GRAS petition for foreseeable consumption of greater than 100 grams per day of maltitol.

Finally, and to summarize: According to available research the current status is that maltilol does not have an immune suppressor effect. Ofcourse research is changing the way we understand everything, every day.

If you are doing a research on the topic then I would refer you to the following references:

Commission of the European Communities. Reports of the Scientific Committee for Food concerning sweeteners. Sixteenth Series. Report EUR 10210 EN. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 1985.

European Economic Community Council (EEC). Directive on food labeling. Official Journal of the European Communities. No. L 276/40 (Oct. 6, 1990).

Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, IPCS Toxicological evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants: Maltitol, WHO Food Additives Series: 32, 1993, pp. 101-104.

Life Sciences Research Office. Evaluation of the net energy value of maltitol. April 1999. (unpublished)

Modderman JP. Safety Assessment of Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 18:80-104, 1993.

Petition to Affirm Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) Status of Maltitol As A Food Ingredient, by Towa Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., filed December 23,1986 with the United States Food and Drug Administration.
 Anonymous - Fri Jan 10, 2003 5:12 pm

Thank you for your prompt and informative reply!

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