- The World Health Organization has classified Aspartame as a potential carcinogen.
- Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, is used in diet colas and candy.
- The evidence that Aspartame causes cancer is still relatively scarce.
Some people believe that cancer risks increase when aspartame consumption is high.
IARC, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, has classified aspartame artificial sweetener (Trusted Source) as a potential carcinogen.
Carcinogens are substances that cause cancer or have the potential to do so. AlcoholTrustedSource and processed meatTrustedSource were also declared to be carcinogenic.
Darin Detwiler, Ph.D., professor of food policy at Northeastern University and corporate social responsibility, explained that carcinogenic substances increase cancer risk by damaging metabolic cells in the body.
This leads to cancer.” “This leads to cancer.”
Declaring an ingredient carcinogenic does not make it illegal. It is intended to warn consumers of the possible side effects.
Some experts, however, have said that these warnings create confusion and fear among people regarding what they should and shouldn’t eat.
Why Aspartame is a Possible Carcinogen
The IARC report cites three studies that “found a positive correlation between the consumption of artificially-sweetened beverages and liver cancer risk.”
A 2022 French study with almost 103,000 participants was one of them. The study found that people who consume more Aspartame than the average amount each day are at an increased risk for breast cancer, obesity-related cancers (liver, kidney, and stomach), and other cancers.
The IARC did note that “chance or bias could not be excluded as an explanation” for positive results in these studies.
IARC has also noted limited evidence in three published animal studies that link Aspartame with tumors. There are also hints of evidence suggesting Aspartame causes chronic inflammation, which is linked to cancer progression.
IARC declares such as the one below on Aspartame based on scientific research published.
According to Kelsey Costa MS, a registered dietitian and health researcher at the National Coalition on Healthcare, “carcinogens can be classified into four categories (1-4) depending on the amount of evidence available linking them to cancer risk in humans.”
She stated that if the substance is in Category 1, there are strong links between it and cancer. In contrast, Category 4 means that there are no evidence-based data to support the claim of carcinogenicity.
Costa stated that Aspartame is classified as 2B. This means there are limited indications of its carcinogenic potential in humans. “The IARC has therefore determined that it is possibly carcinogenic for humans.”
Aspartame was not always considered carcinogenic. This is why many brands have been using it in their products for years.
Tyler Williams, CEO at ASI Food Safety, said, “JECFA has been saying that aspartame can be consumed safely within the accepted daily limit since 1981.”
Many previous studies have failed to find an association between the consumption of Aspartame and cancer risk.
Speaking to Healthline, Williams said that Aspartame was one of the most researched food additives on the food supply chain. “Hundreds of studies have been conducted to confirm its safety.”
The agency classified it as possibly causating cancer, not likely,” said Kimberly Gomer MS, a registered and licensed dietitian-nutritionist and director of nutrition at Body Beautiful Miami. The distinction is crucial.
How much Aspartame is safe to consume?
Experts agree there is no need to panic when consuming or drinking Aspartame.
JECFA, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (which is a joint FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives), was also reassessing “safe” levels for aspartame intake at the same time that WHO was completing its aspartame assessment.
The committee is doing this for the third time, the last being in 2016.
JECFA has reaffirmed its longstanding recommendation that 0-40mg per kg body weight falls within the acceptable daily intake (ADI).
Gomer explained that only a tiny amount of Aspartame was needed in a 12-ounce diet soda can — about 192mg, or 0.007oz.
If you are an adult weighing 70kg or 154 lbs, 14 cans of Aspartame daily would be required to meet the ADI.
PepsiCo has told Reuters that it does not plan to remove Aspartame.
JECFA, unlike IARC, did not think there were enough facts to prove a link between Aspartame and cancer.
Moez Sanaa (DVM, Ph.D.), WHO’s Head for Standards and Scientific Advice on Food and Nutrition Unit said in a statement: “JECFA considered the evidence on the cancer risk in both animal and human studies and concluded that there is no convincing evidence to suggest an association between the consumption of aspartame and cancer among humans.”
Dr. Francesco Branca of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety of the WHO added: “While the safety of these doses is not of major concern, there have been reported potential effects that require further and better research.”
Aspartame: What you need to know
Aspartame, an artificial sweetener that tastes 200 times sweeter than sugar, is made from amino acids. Gomer said the ingredient comprises two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
She explained that the Food and Drug Administration approved its use in 1981 as an artificial product sweetener.
Aside from its sweet taste, Costa shared that it is also popular because it contains “virtually zero calories.”
It’s a great addition to everyday food and drinks, especially those “sugar-free.”
- Diet cola/soda
- Breakfast cereals
- Ice Cream
Gomer said you can find it in small packets at cafes and restaurants. It’s used to sweeten tea and coffee and is sold under NutraSweet or Equal.
Williams said that aspartame “loses its sweet taste at high temperatures.”
Alternatives to Aspartame
Aspartame can be used in place of refined sugar. Refined sugar has been linked to several adverse health effects.
Gomer said that it was always a matter of preference whether artificial sweeteners were used instead of sugar. It is up to each individual to determine which sweetener is best.
Costa says that natural sugars are the best alternative to either of these.
She revealed, for example, that stevia, monk fruit, and other plant-based sweeteners have “zero calorie content” and “do not contain any synthetic or chemical ingredients.”
Honey and maple syrup are also natural alternatives. Costa explained that while these foods are high in antioxidants and good for the body, they also contain many calories.
World Health Organization classified Aspartame, a common artificial sweetener, as a potential carcinogen. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener that tastes about 200 times sweeter than sugar, is a possible carcinogen. Experts are worried that the WHO classification could cause confusion and that cancer risks remain mainly with people who consume large amounts of Aspartame.