Health Experts Advise Moderate Consumption of Aspartame, Highlighting Potential Carcinogenicity

Health Experts Urge Moderation in Consumption of Aspartame

In recent findings, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified aspartame, an artificial sweetener used in various food and beverage products, as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” While the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) acknowledges the limited evidence available, specifically concerning hepatocellular carcinoma or liver cancer, it emphasizes the need for moderation rather than a complete withdrawal of products or cessation of consumption.

According to the IARC, aspartame falls into Group 2B, a category that also includes other substances like aloe vera extract and caffeic acid found in tea and coffee. Experts reassure the public that there is no cause for general concern about the risk of cancer associated with chemicals in this group. Mary Schubauer-Berigan from the IARC explains that the limited evidence regarding hepatocellular carcinoma came from three studies, conducted across the United States and 10 European countries.

To evaluate the risks associated with aspartame, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), formed by the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization, conducted their review. Based on their evaluation, JECFA found no reason to change the acceptable daily intake of aspartame established in 1981, which ranges from zero to 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. For the average adult weighing 70kg, this means they would need to consume more than nine to 14 cans of sugar-free soft drink per day to exceed the acceptable daily intake.

Aspartame is commonly found in a range of products, including diet drinks, chewing gum, gelatin, ice cream, yoghurt, breakfast cereals, toothpaste, cough drops, and chewable vitamins. While the classification places aspartame in the same category as kimchi and other pickled vegetables, the International Sweeteners Association maintains that JECFA’s review affirms the safety of aspartame.

Concerns have been raised by Camille Dorioz, campaign manager at the consumer organization Foodwatch, who believes a possibly carcinogenic sweetener shouldn’t have a place in our food and drink. However, the WHO suggests that a third option should be considered — drinking water instead and limiting the consumption of sweetened products altogether.

In May, the WHO released guidelines advising against the use of artificial sweeteners, stating that they do not assist in weight loss and can have adverse health effects. In light of these recent findings, health experts stress the importance of choosing alternatives that do not contain either free sugars or sweeteners. The focus remains on moderation and making informed decisions about consumption.

These recent findings on the classification of aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” highlight the need for further research and clarification. Health experts are urging consumers to be mindful of their consumption of aspartame-containing products and consider healthier alternatives. While complete avoidance may not be necessary, moderation and informed choices are key to maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.