Aspartame sweetener a possible carcinogen

PLUS: Foods that contain aspartame

LONDON, June 29 (Reuters) – One of the world’s most common artificial sweeteners is set to be declared a possible carcinogen next month by a leading global health body, according to two sources with knowledge of the process, pitting it against the food industry and regulators.

Aspartame, used in products from Coca-Cola diet sodas to Mars’ Extra chewing gum and some Snapple drinks, will be listed in July as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” for the first time by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research arm, the sources told Reuters.

The IARC ruling, finalised earlier this month after a meeting of the group’s external experts, is intended to assess whether something is a potential hazard or not, based on all the published evidence.

It does not take into account how much of a product a person can safely consume.

This advice for individuals comes from a separate WHO expert committee on food additives, known as JECFA (the Joint WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization’s Expert Committee on Food Additives), alongside determinations from national regulators.

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However, similar IARC rulings in the past for different substances have raised concerns among consumers about their use, led to lawsuits, and pressured manufacturers to recreate recipes and swap to alternatives.

That has led to criticism that the IARC’s assessments can be confusing to the public.

JECFA, the WHO committee on additives, is also reviewing aspartame use this year. Its meeting began at the end of June and it is due to announce its findings on the same day that the IARC makes public its decision – on July 14.

Since 1981, JECFA has said aspartame is safe to consume within accepted daily limits … read more. 

Foods that contain aspartame

CBS NEWS – Here are some common foods and beverages that contain aspartame:

  • Zero-sugar or diet sodas, including Diet Coke
  • Sugar-free gums, such as Trident gum
  • Diet drink mixes, including Crystal Light
  • Reduced-sugar condiments, such as Log Cabin Sugar Free Syrup
  • Sugar-free gelatin like Sugar-free Jell-O
  • Tabletop sweeteners sold under brand names including Equal and Nutrasweet
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Neither Coca-Cola, maker of Diet Coke, nor other manufacturers of foods containing aspartame immediately returned requests for comment.

To be sure, specific sweeteners used in low-sugar products vary, and companies sometimes change ingredients. To get the most accurate information, consumers should check the ingredient lists on individual products to confirm whether or not it contains aspartame.

Is aspartame dangerous?

While several studies have determined aspartame to be safe in moderation, some research has linked aspartame consumption to cancer. One observational study of more than 100,000 adults in France concluded that individuals who consumed larger amounts of artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, had a slightly elevated risk of cancer. | SOURCE. 

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