Aspartame Under the Magnifying Glass: The WHO Identifies Cancer Risk in this Sweetener

    However, the evidence is insufficient and more research is required to reach definitive conclusions

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    Aspartame, a sweetener used in a wide range of products, including low-calorie soft drinks, candy, and even medicines, has been classified as “possibly carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization (WHO). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a WHO body tasked with evaluating the carcinogenic potential of substances, has concluded that aspartame may have the ability to cause cancer in humans.

    The classification given to aspartame is 2B on the IARC scale, which means that there is either limited evidence of cancer in humans or convincing evidence of cancer in experimental animals, but not both. However, the evidence is insufficient and more research is required to reach definitive conclusions.

    The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), tasked with assessing risks and establishing acceptable daily intake levels, has also reviewed the available evidence and decided to maintain the existing recommendation of 40 milligrams of aspartame per kilogram of body weight per day. Although possible harmful effects of aspartame have been described, it is considered safe in the usual doses of consumption.

    Limit sweetener intake

    Aspartame, which is up to 200 times sweeter than sugar, is used as a sweetener in a wide variety of products, including low-calorie soft drinks, chewing gum, gelatin, breakfast cereals, yogurt, ice cream, toothpaste, and some medicines. Despite the classification of aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic”, it is not recommended to eliminate products that contain it or stop consuming them completely. Instead, it is advisable to moderate your consumption and look for healthier alternatives, such as water.

    It is important to note that the available scientific evidence does not indicate that occasional consumption of aspartame-containing products poses a significant health risk. However, consumers are urged to exercise caution and limit the consumption of artificial sweeteners in general. It is suggested to follow a balanced diet and focus on natural foods instead of over-reliance on food additives.

    The amount of aspartame present in food and medicines is generally below the recommended daily intake limits, so that, under normal conditions, it does not represent an appreciable danger to health. WHO continues to promote research to improve understanding of the potential carcinogenic risks of aspartame and other food additives, with the goal of ensuring consumer safety.

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