The World Health Organisation has confirmed that a sweetener often found in 'diet' soda products is 'possibly carcinogenic to humans'.
Aspartame, a product often found in yoghurts, chewing gum and 'diet' products such as Diet Coke, will officially be listed as having the potential to cause cancer.
A source told Reuters that the recent ruling comes from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research arm.
The WHO’s latest findings are based on three different studies which suggest that possible carcinogenic sweetener is associated with liver cancer.
The first study could 'not prove that aspartame caused the increased cancer risk' but the second reported that 'some cancers in mice and rats were linked to aspartame'.
A third study that took place in France in 2022 showed that adults who consume a large amount of artificial sweeteners - including aspartame - had a 'slightly higher cancer risk'.
According to a doctor from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, Dr Mary Schubauer-Berigan, there is 'limited evidence' linked to aspartame, but the chemical has the potential to cause liver cancer.
And Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the WHO's Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, said: "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.”
Following the research reveal, the IARC classified the chemical in Group 2B for cancer hazards.
However, not everyone is impressed by the recent ruling on the artificial sweetener.
Frances Hunt-Wood, secretary general of the International Sweeteners Association (ISA), said: "IARC is not a food safety body and their review of aspartame is not scientifically comprehensive and is based heavily on widely discredited research."
ISA also said that there are, 'serious concerns with the IARC review, which may mislead consumers'.
However, listing aspartame as a possible carcinogen is thought to prompt more research into the sweetener.
A source close to IARC said that further deliberation will 'help agencies, consumers and manufacturers draw firmer conclusions'.
Furthermore, a separate report from the organisation’s Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JEFCA) has stated that existing daily limits on aspartame (40mg per kg of body weight) are safe.
However, as reported by The Sun, Dr Duane Mellor of Aston University said: “To be clear this is not a recommendation to consume.
“High intakes of any soft drinks, including 'diet' versions containing sweeteners, is likely to lead to less healthy foods being consumed.”
This revelation comes after guidelines were published by the WHO, advising consumers not to ingest non-sugar sweeteners to control their weight.
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