An artificial sweetener, Aspartame, is being declared “a possible carcinogen” by the World Health Organisation.
The widely consumed sweetener can be found in soft drinks like Diet Coke, chewing gum, sugar-free cough lollies, dessert mixes and even some toothpaste.
Most people would have thought the sweetener to be fairly harmless or at least not as bad as sugar, but this study claims that it could cause cancer.
The WHO hasn’t yet confirmed what their conclusion will be, but sources close to the study claim that the WHO will list Aspartame will be listed as a possible carcinogen to humans.
In a statement released by IARC (The International Agency for Research on Cancer), they say that they’ve “assessed the potential carcinogenic effect of aspartame (hazard identification).”
“Following this, the joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (Jecfa) will update its risk assessment exercise on aspartame, including the reviewing of the acceptable daily intake and dietary exposure assessment for aspartame.”
However, the secretary general of the International Sweeteners Association, Frances Hunt-Wood, said that we shouldn’t be rushing to conclusions before the findings are published.
Hunt-Wood said that “IARC is not a food safety body,” and “The World Health Organisation’s Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (Jecfa) is currently conducting a comprehensive food safety review of aspartame and no conclusions can be drawn until both reports are published.”
“Aspartame is one of the most thoroughly researched ingredients in history, with over 90 food safety agencies across the globe declaring it is safe, including the European Food Safety Authority, which conducted the most comprehensive safety evaluation of aspartame to date.”
Kate Loatman, the executive director of the International Council of Beverages Associations, echoed Hunt-Wood’s statement saying that IARC is “not the appropriate authority’ to make such a declaration.”
“While it appears the IARC is now prepared to concede that aspartame presents no more of a hazard to consumers than using aloe vera, public health authorities should be deeply concerned that this leaked opinion contradicts decades of high-quality scientific evidence and could needlessly mislead consumers into consuming more sugar rather than choosing safe no- and low-sugar options – all on the basis of low-quality studies,” Loatman said.
“We remain confident in the safety of Aspartame given the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence and positive safety determinations by food safety authorities in more than 90 countries around the world.
“We, therefore, welcome the broader, more comprehensive food safety review underway by the WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives.”