Aspartame is a non-sugar sweetener that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in various food and beverage products. The assessment report released by the IARC, WHO, and JECFA suggests that there is limited evidence indicating a possible link between aspartame and cancer in humans, specifically hepatocellular carcinoma. However, it’s important to note that the evidence is not conclusive and further studies are needed to establish a more definitive understanding of the potential health risks associated with aspartame consumption.
The IARC classified aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B), which means there is limited evidence of its carcinogenicity. This classification is based on the available scientific evidence, which includes studies on cancer in humans and experimental animals. The Group 2B classification is the third highest level out of four levels used by IARC and indicates that there is limited but not convincing evidence of carcinogenicity in humans or sufficient evidence in experimental animals.
On the other hand, JECFA, after reviewing the available data, concluded that there is no sufficient reason to change the previously established acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 0-40 mg/kg body weight for aspartame. This means that within this limit, aspartame is considered safe for consumption on a daily basis. To exceed this limit, a person would need to consume a significant amount of aspartame, such as consuming more than 9-14 cans of diet soft drinks per day, assuming no other significant sources of aspartame intake.
“Science is continuously expanding to assess the possible initiating or facilitating factors of cancer, in the hope of reducing these numbers and the human toll,” stated Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, WHO.
He added, “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.”
Both the IARC and WHO recognize the importance of monitoring new evidence and conducting further research to better understand the potential association between aspartame exposure and its impact on human health. Cancer is a leading cause of death globally, and aspartame’s potential carcinogenicity warrants ongoing investigation.
It’s worth noting that the evaluations conducted by the IARC and JECFA are independent but complementary, with IARC focusing on hazard identification and JECFA focusing on risk assessment. Their assessments are based on a comprehensive review of scientific data, including peer-reviewed studies, governmental reports, and regulatory studies, and measures are taken to ensure the independence and reliability of the evaluations.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.