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Muscletech, Cellucor, Six Star Pro Nutrition Pass Heavy Metal Test but Fail Toxicity Standards


A HealthyLivinG Investigation of protein supplements from brands such as Cellucor, Muscletech Research & Development, Six Star Pro Nutrition and ON as well as Naked Whey and Now found that all passed testing for absence any arsenic, cadmium or lead contamination. However, only two were able to pass HLF’s toxicity standards for listed ingredients.

Here are our findings:

Muscletech Research & Development Essential Series Platinum 100% Iso-Whey Gourmet Milk Chocolate tested free from arsenic, cadmium and lead; however, its use of Acesulfame-K and Sucralose as sweeteners, both linked to suspect cancerogenic activities, makes this product one that must be illegal.

Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey Whipped Vanilla tested free of heavy metals but had the same two artificial sweeteners.

Six Star Pro Nutrition Whey isolate Elite Series French Vanilla tested free from contaminants but also uses the two red flagged artificial sweeteners.

A HealthyLivinG Foundation investigation of protein powders confirmed a lot of bad actors out there with excessive amounts of arsenic and cadmium—but one of the bright stars in the protein universe is Naked Whey from Naked Nutrtition.

The most chemically loaded products was ON Platinum Hydro Whey Cookies & Cream Overdrive—a product from Optimal Nutrition. Among its less than desirable ingredients are high fructose corn syrup along with artificial sweeteners.

 NOW Sports Whey Protein Isolate Natural Unflavored and Naked Whey earned HLF approval for all aspects of their products.

 What is the big problem with Acesulfame-K and Sucralose?


In an experimental study, mice orally administered aspartame, acesulfame-K or saccharin suffered “sweetener-induced DNA strand breaks as revealed by increased comet-tail extent and percent DNA in the tail.” Acelsulfame-K induced greater DNA damage than aspartame. “These findings are important since they represent a potential health risk associated with the exposure to these agents.”

 Acelsulfame-K damages the arteries, according to a March 2014 report in PLoS One. Early consumption of cola drinks sweetened with the artificial sugar “accelerated atherosclerotic plaque progression…” There was “a rapid increase in liver inflammation.”


Another one of the sweeteners replacing sugar is sucralose, called an organochlorine artificial sweetener some 600x sweeter than sucrose and used in over 4,500 products. Sucralose, or better known as Splenda, the diet darling of every 24 Hour Fitness master, is an artificial sweetener that came on the market in the late eighties along with disco. It is like the pesticide DDT in that the body does not break it down and it is stored in human fat or so it appears to be as indestructible because not even our modern wastewater treatment plants can seem to scrub it out once it enters the ecosystem—this according to Smitha Ramakrishna, a 2009 Intel Science Talent Search finalist who discovered it accumulates in water supplies after people excrete it. While researching at Arizona State University, the first high school student the lab ever had subjected the artificial sweetener to bacterial digestion used in treatment plants and found that it resisted almost all of them.

 Long-term carcinogenicity bioassays on rats and mice conducted on behalf of the manufacturer that failed to show the evidence of carcinogenic effects are being challenged. Five groups of male and 5 of female mice were treated from 12 days of gestation through their lifespans with sucralose in their feed.  “We found a significant dose-related increased incidence of males bearing malignant tumors… and a significant dose-related increased incidence of hematopoietic (blood cell) neoplasias in males… These findings do not support previous data that sucralose is biologically inert. More studies are necessary to show the safety of sucralose, including new and more adequate carcinogenic bioassay on rats. Considering that millions of people are likely exposed, follow-up studies are urgent.”

 “We’re pleased that these companies all passed their heavy metal screens,” says a spokesperson for the HLF. “We recognize that with listed ingredients people have the right to choose their products; however from a toxicity standpoint, we did find two products that passed and we’re pleased to commend them for lowering the consumer toxicity level.”


 Abou-Donia MB, El-Masry EM, Abdel-Rahman AA, McLendon RE, Schiffman SS. Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2008;71(21):1415-29. doi: 10.1080/15287390802328630.

Bandyopadhyay A, Ghoshal S, Mukherjee A.Genotoxicity testing of low-calorie sweeteners: aspartame, acesulfame-K, and saccharin. Drug Chem Toxicol. 2008;31(4):447-57. doi: 10.1080/01480540802390270 .

M S, M P, E T, L F, F M, M L, L B, M M, F B. Sucralose administered in feed, beginning prenatally through lifespan, induces hematopoietic neoplasias in male swiss mice. Int J Occup Environ Health. 2016 Jan;22(1):7-17. doi: 10.1080/10773525.2015.1106075. Epub 2016 Jan 29.

Mawhinney DB, Young RB, Vanderford BJ, Borch T, Snyder SA.  The Artificial Sweetener Sucralose in U.S. Drinking Water Systems. Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Aug 31. [Epub ahead of print]

Otero-Losada M, Cao G, Mc Loughlin S, Rodríguez-Granillo G, Ottaviano G, Milei J.Rate of Atherosclerosis Progression in ApoE-/- Mice Long After Discontinuation of Cola Beverage Drinking. PLoS One. 2014 Mar 26;9(3):e89838. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089838. eCollection 2014.

Swithers SE.Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul 3. pii: S1043-2760(13)00087-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2013.05.005. [Epub ahead of print]