Study: Artificial sweeteners like aspartame linked to increased cancer risk

A new study reveals that high consumption of artificial sweeteners is linked to an increased risk of cancer. Human population studies have shown artificial sweeteners to be safe in the past, but results from in vitro studies and animal studies have raised some concerns. A new large-scale study of artificial sweetener consumers reveals that these products are associated with an increased risk of cancer. This large observational study found a link between the consumption of artificial sweeteners, in particular aspartame and acesulfame-K, and cancer.

Indeed, the study found a 13% increased risk of cancer overall, with the highest likelihood of developing breast cancer and obesity-related cancers, for people consuming high amounts of artificial sweeteners. . The global market for artificial sweeteners is estimated at $22.2 billion and growing, an increase of nearly $3 billion in the past two years alone. A 2017 study found that, for example, 41.4% of American adults and 25.1% of children use artificial sweeteners, ingredients in a wide range of commercial products.

Many respected medical authorities and organizations now consider artificial sweeteners safe after extensive epidemiological research in human populations. Still, there is strong evidence for the carcinogenicity of aspartame in animal studies, but no solid epidemiological confirmation has been credible so far. For this reason, this study is very important and has great implications for public health. Of particular concern is the fact that in animal studies, even very low doses of aspartame in the diet of a pregnant female rat are potently carcinogenic to her offspring. This new study is published in the journal Plos Medecine.

A study conducted in France by teams from INSERM, CNAM and INRAE

The study was written by researchers associated with the nutritional epidemiology research team (EREN) of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) of the Sorbonne Paris Nord University, the National Conservatory of Arts et Métiers (CNAM) and the National Institute for Research on Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE) in France. Researchers analyzed the backgrounds of 102,865 adults participating in the NutriNet-Santé study which began collecting data in 2009. Participants were followed for the new research for an average of 7.8 years. The results of this study are very original because no previous cohort study had directly examined the association between the quantitative intakes of artificial sweeteners per se, from all food sources, distinguishing the different types of sweeteners, and the cancer risk.

The reason for this study is that there were already concerns

Some observational studies have previously examined associations between cancer risk and the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages. These studies had already found an increased risk of cancer, suggesting that the artificial sweeteners found in these types of drinks may play a role in the development of cancer. Additionally, previous results in animal models and in vitro/in vivo studies have also suggested their carcinogenicity.

Aspartame and acesulfame-K

The researchers performed analyzes for “total artificial sweeteners” as a whole. That is: acesulfame-K, aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, steviol glycosides and aspartame-acesulfame salt, then separately for artificial sweeteners most represented in the cohort (i.e. acesulfame-K, aspartame and sucralose). Looking further into the higher risk of aspartame and acesulfame-K. The researchers found that aspartame and acesulfame-K were by far the most commonly consumed artificial sweeteners.

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The conclusions of the study

At this time, the researchers conclude that based on this study alone, it is not possible to establish the causality of the association. For the moment, it is not possible to establish a “dose at which the risk appears”. What the researchers can say is that, in this study, the highest consumers of artificial sweeteners, above the median consumption of 18 mg/d and for whom the average consumption was 79.43 mg/d , had a significantly increased risk of cancer compared to non-consumers. »


Artificial sweeteners and cancer risk: Results from the NutriNet-Santé population-based cohort study


* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]

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