JAMA in 1911: Saccharin a drug

One hundred years ago this week, the Journal of the American Medical Association bemoaned extensions on the legal use of saccharin.

In an October 21, 1911 editorial about saccharin manufacturers exploiting rising sugar prices, JAMA commented that,

It now remains to be seen whether the three secretaries—the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce and Labor and the Secretary of the Treasury will again extend the period of probation for the use of this drug.

But in 1978, JAMA published a study that concluded:

… neither saccharin nor cyclamate is likely to be carcinogenic in man, at least at the moderate dietary ingestion levels reported by the patient sample.

This was followed by a 1985 review article in JAMA that concluded:

Until there is firm evidence of its carcinogenicity in humans, saccharin should continue to be available as a food additive, and reports of adverse health effects associated with its use should be monitored.

Of course, Charles Purdy had it right the first time about saccharin in this 1888 JAMA article.

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