Artificial sweeteners are used by the food industry in a wide range of foods and beverages as alternatives to added sugars, whose harmful effects on various chronic diseases (obesity, diabetes) are now well established. The safety of these food additives is debated, with conflicting findings regarding their role in the etiology of various diseases.
A recent study published in the journal Plos Medicine that aimed to investigate the associations between the intake of artificial sweeteners (all dietary sources and the most consumed: aspartame, acesulfame and sucralose) and the risk of cancer, evaluates the possible carcinogenicity of Artificial sweeteners.
The researchers analyzed data from 102,865 French adults who participated in the NutriNet-Santé study. The researchers collected data on artificial sweetener intake from 24-hour dietary records. After collecting information on cancer diagnosis during follow-up, the researchers performed statistical analyzes to investigate associations between artificial sweetener intake and cancer risk.
They were also adjusted for variables such as age, sex, education, physical activity, smoking, body mass index, height, weight gain during follow-up, diabetes, family history of cancer, as well as initial intakes of energy, alcohol, sodium, fatty acids, saturated fat, fiber, sugar, whole foods, and dairy products.
The research found that participants who consumed higher amounts of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame and acesulfame K, had a 13% higher risk of cancer, compared to those who did not consume them. Higher risks were seen for breast cancer and obesity-related cancers such as colon, stomach, and prostate.
Further research is required to confirm the results
This study does not support the use of artificial sweeteners as safe alternatives to sugar in foods or beverages. These may be associated with an increased risk of cancer, in line with several experimental in vivo/in vitro studies.
It invites to reflect and evaluate the use of sweeteners in the food industry, the frequency and consumption of food products with artificial sweeteners that the population has.
It is an opportunity to value the adoption of public policies that generate a healthy food environment. Through these, it is intended that the population has access to safe products for consumption.
In addition, facilitate the making of healthy decisions, such as:
– National strategy to promote research, development and innovation processes for the reformulation of natural food products with a low content of critical nutrients (sugars, sodium and fats). This would promote the use of natural sweeteners.
– A front nutritional warning label on prepackaged products with a precautionary legend “contains artificial sweetener”. For This, Bill No. 22,065 On Front Labeling Of Prepackaged Food And Non-Alcoholic Beverages Should Be Taken Up Again, To Facilitate The Understanding And Decision-Making Of The Consumer, On The Content Of Critical Nutrients And Ingredients That, Due To Their Excessive Consumption, Represent Risks For People’s Health.
– Social marketing campaign. This to position in the population the value of a healthy diet with a reduced consumption of products with sugar and free of artificial sweeteners.