The debate over the safety (or lack thereof) of these substances is very heated and still continues but I have heard enough to make a personal choice. I am no longer prepared to ingest these substances.
The main reasons are the links to conditions that have personally affected me. They are:
I was diagnosed as depressed in my mid twenties and have lived with low moods and 'black dog days' for around 15 years. I am in no way as bad as some people I know but depression has negatively impacted my life. My diagnosis of depression followed my diagnosis of Diabetes and my switch to sugar-free foods. Artificial sweeteners are also linked to Diabetes but I will put my hands up and admit that was completely my own fault - I have been overweight all my life but in my mid twenties I was so large I had put myself in danger of death - getting off with Type II Diabetes is a lucky break in my eyes.
2) Multiple Sclerosis
As I have made no secret of on this site, I have MS. I'm also the fifth member of the family of this condition. Again, I cannot say sweeteners were the cause because my aunty died because of MS before the sweeteners were invented BUT if my family has a genetic predisposition to MS or to the negative effects of sweeteners then it is prudent to avoid them, yes?
3) Brain Cancer
This one is still very raw. My Dad, also a diabetic, switched to sweeteners in an attempt to avoid sugar in tea and coffee. He also ate many 'sugar-free' foods. He died of an unusual brain cancer in May of this year. Did the sweeteners contribute to his death? Who knows? Certainly not me but the thought is enough to make me draw conclusions.
None of what I say is conclusive. I cannot even be certain in my own decision but it can't hurt. A lot of the evidence against the sweeteners is put out there by companies clearly looking to discredit their rivals but a lot of drier, harder to read scientific papers online point to the same conclusions.
So what does this mean, in practical terms, for me?
It means I have gone through my favourites list on Tesco to eliminate any items on there which contain artificial sweeteners. Most of those foods will not be missed (well, with the exception of fat-free yoghurt). It was a pain in the arse but it's done - no more impact on my life.
It means reading labels a little more closely but I check calorific information anyway so no major change there.
I will eat better because I will have to prepare the food myself and not really on pre-prepared stuff. I love cooking so no hardship there.
So less sugar, no sweeteners - no worries.