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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

WHO. Aspartame may be on the WHO list of potentially carcinogenic compounds

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Aspartame, commonly used as a sugar substitute, is to be recognized by the World Health Organization as a possible carcinogen later this month, according to media reports. – Let us remember, however, that the dose makes the poison – said nutritionist Anna Podgórska on TVN24 BiS. She added that “a person weighing 60, 70 kilograms would have to consume a dozen or even several dozen cans of a drink containing aspartame a day for it to pose a health risk.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on behalf of the WHO intends to announce in July that aspartame is possibly carcinogenic to humans. This was reported by Reuters, citing two sources at IARC.

Where is the substance?

– Aspartame is a chemical and I think a known sweetener. It has virtually zero energy value and is up to 200 times sweeter than sugar. We can usually find it in products that are often used by slimming people – said the dietician. She added that most often these are zero or light drinks, chewing gums, sweets or yoghurts. The substance can also be found in some ready-made sauces or spices.

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– I understand that this last message causes a lot of controversy, in fact, the ingredient itself causes many controversy. In fact, in 1981 it was already recognized as a safe substance. However, there have been some studies and information that say that the ingredient may be potentially carcinogenic. But remember, it’s the dose that makes the poison. (..) Such a person weighing 60 or 70 kg would have to consume a dozen or even several dozen cans of aspartame a day for it to pose a health risk – said the expert.

– I would like to reassure our viewers. Red meat, for example, is on the same list. In fact, it’s all about quantity, he explains. However, she pointed out that products containing aspartame are highly processed. “Such foods should only make up a percentage of our diet and be eaten occasionally,” she said.

– Some time ago WHO issued recommendations, recommendations on sweeteners. In general, non-sugar sweeteners do not have a long-term positive effect on reducing body fat. However, WHO excluded people suffering from diabetes from this group – explained Podgórska.

Many years of research on aspartame

Aspartame has been extensively studied over the years. Among other things, it was shown that people consuming higher amounts of artificial sweeteners had a slightly higher risk of cancer, and that the occurrence of some cancers in mice and rats was associated with aspartame. Despite this, the sweetener is approved for use by national regulators around the world – also based on available research results. The ambiguity of this situation and the difficulty of reconciling consumer taste preferences with health-promoting aspirations are well illustrated by the struggles of Pepsico, which in 2015 removed aspartame from its carbonated drinks, restored it a year later, and removed it again in 2020.

Recognition of aspartame as a potential carcinogen is, according to the IARC, to motivate further research that will allow to draw more decisive conclusions. It will undoubtedly spark a discussion about the safety of sweeteners in general. Last month, the WHO published guidelines advising consumers against the use of non-sugar sweeteners for weight management. This has caused a stir in the food industry, which argues that sugar substitutes can be helpful for consumers who want to reduce the amount of sugar in their diet.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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