Aspartame: Common sweetener could soon be declared a carcinogenic

The World Health Organization is reportedly planning to declare aspartame, a common artificial sweetener used in a lot of sugar-free products, a carcinogenic. Here is what we know.

Aspartame: Common sweetener could soon be declared a carcinogenic
© Photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya on Unsplash
Aspartame: Common sweetener could soon be declared a carcinogenic

Safety of the artificial sweetener Aspartame which replaces sugar in more than 6,000 products such as Diet Coke and Extra chewing gums is now being questioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the authority planning to declare the ingredient potentially dangerous for you.

Discover our latest podcast

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of WHO, assessed over 1300 studies for a potential negative impact of aspartame and believes it is ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’, sources familiar with a report set to be published in two weeks claim.

The leaked conclusion sparked debate in the industry.

On one side, similar statements about aspartame was partly proved by science in the past. On the other - they were massively scrutinised and labelled as ‘inconclusive’ by the food and beverage industry players who warn that discrediting aspartame can lead to people ditching the sweetener and turning to sugar instead.

It remains unclear how much of the ingredient is unsafe for your health.

Meanwhile, this common emotioncan increase your risk of heart disease if you already suffer from diabetes.

Also, here is why you should never drink hot water from the tap and not store stock cubes in your cupboards.

Is aspartame dangerous?

Aspartame has been researched for years.

A study last year observed more than 100,000 adults in France and demonstrated that those who consumed larger amounts of artificial sweeteners – including aspartame – had a slightly higher cancer risk.

Another study by the Ramazzini Institute in Italy conducted in the early 2000s showed that some cancers in mice and rats were linked to aspartame.

One 2021 research paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, said that ‘the results of its long-term use remain difficult to predict.’

Science also found that aspartame may cause headaches, seizures and depression.

But the critics argue that neither these nor the other 1300 studies were able to fully prove that the sweetener leads to cancer or define how much aspartame is too much.

The common sugar substitute is authorised for use globally by regulators, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with heavy lobbying from the major food and beverage manufacturers.

According to FDA's acceptable daily limit for artificial sweeteners, an adult weighing 150 pounds would have to ingest more than 18 cans of zero-sugar soda a day to experience severe negative health consequences from aspartame.

Read more:

Never leave your water bottle in the car: It can be a potential fire hazard!

Pet owners shocked to find out many common household foods including grapes, are toxic to dogs

WHO: more research is needed

Food and beverage players believe that any speculations around the safety of aspartame lead to confusion amongst consumers.

Manufacturers also struggle to balance taste preferences with health concerns.

Soft drinks giant Pepsico removed aspartame from sodas in 2015, bringing it back a year later, only to remove it again in 2020.

But IARC insists that listing aspartame as a possible carcinogen is intended to motivate more research, which will help agencies, consumers and manufacturers draw firmer conclusions about aspartame and the safety of sweeteners more generally.

Read more:

The health risk you didn’t know about getting tattoos, and it’s not cancer

Sexual health: New study reveals the average penis size in each country

Sources used:

- CBS News: 'WHO questions safety of aspartame. Here's a list of popular foods, beverages with the sweetener'

- Reuters: 'Exclusive: WHO's cancer research agency to say aspartame sweetener a possible carcinogen - sources'

Peegasm: This common sex trend can be dangerous and can cause serious health problems Peegasm: This common sex trend can be dangerous and can cause serious health problems