News 14 July 2023

Sweetener in Diet Coke is linked to cancer according to World Health Organisation

14 July 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently confirmed that aspartame, a common sweetener found in “diet” fizzy drink products like Diet Coke, is potentially carcinogenic to humans.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer research arm of the WHO, has made this ruling, based on three studies linking aspartame to an increased risk of liver cancer.

While the first study could not definitively establish a causative relationship, the second study showed a connection between aspartame and certain cancers in mice and rats.

A third study conducted in France revealed a slightly higher cancer risk in adults consuming large amounts of artificial sweeteners, including aspartame.

Director of the WHO’s Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, Dr Francesco Branca, said, “The assessments of aspartame have indicated that, while safety is not a major concern at the doses which are commonly used, potential effects have been described that need to be investigated by more and better studies.”

The IARC has categorised aspartame as a Group 2B substance, indicating potential cancer hazards. However, the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) has criticised the ruling, expressing concerns over its scientific comprehensiveness and reliance on discredited research.

Despite existing daily limits considered safe by the WHO, health experts caution against high intakes of soft drinks, including diet versions containing sweeteners.

This recent development may spur further research into aspartame, prompting agencies, consumers, and manufacturers to draw more informed conclusions.

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