The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disputes the World Health Organization’s assertion that the commonly used soda sweetener, aspartame, may cause cancer in humans. The FDA argues that the studies leading to this conclusion had “significant shortcomings.”
“After the release of the WHO’s findings, an FDA spokesperson stated on Thursday that aspartame, one of the most extensively studied food additives, does not raise safety concerns when used according to approved conditions.”
After reviewing three extensive human studies conducted in the U.S. and Europe, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a body of the WHO, discovered a potential association between aspartame and hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer.
According to the Calorie Control Council, a trade group representing artificial sweetener manufacturers, aspartame is utilized as a sugar substitute in approximately 6,000 products globally.
Diet sodas like Diet Coke and Pepsi Zero Sugar have traditionally been the primary source of exposure to aspartame, the sugar substitute used in artificially sweetened beverages.
Aspartame is extensively utilized due to its sweetness, which is approximately 200 times stronger than sugar. This characteristic enables beverages containing aspartame to have a similar taste to sugar-sweetened products while having a lower calorie content.
Dr. Mary Schubauer-Berigan, a senior official at IARC, highlighted that the WHO’s classification of aspartame as a potential carcinogen is grounded on limited evidence.
During a news conference with journalists, Schubauer-Berigan acknowledged on Wednesday that the studies might have flaws that could have influenced the results. She stated that the classification should be regarded as a call for further research to investigate whether aspartame can potentially cause cancer in humans.
Schubauer-Berigan clarified, “This statement should not be interpreted as a direct indication of a known cancer risk associated with consuming aspartame.”
The FDA spokesperson emphasized that the classification of aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” does not imply a definitive link between the sugar substitute and cancer. The spokesperson added that Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority have also determined the safety of aspartame at current permitted levels.
The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), comprising scientists from the WHO and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, stated on Thursday that the evidence linking aspartame to cancer in humans is not convincing. This separate international body of scientists emphasized their assessment.
JECFA, responsible for making consumption recommendations, continues to uphold its guidance that individuals can safely consume 40 milligrams of aspartame per kilogram of body weight daily throughout their lifetime.
Source : cnbc.com