Aspartame: How worried should you be about a ‘possible’ cancer link – will the big brands start changing their recipes? | Technology News

Has one of the world’s most widely used artificial sweeteners just gone sour?

Aspartame is found in some of the biggest brands of reduced-calorie foods and beverages, Has been listed as a possible cancer risk.

The health warning will no doubt cause some buzz, especially since it comes from an arm of the World Health Organization.

Diet Coke, Muller’s Light Yogurt, Wrigley’s Extra Gum and many other everyday products are affected.

So how worried should you be? First, it’s worth understanding what’s going on.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) divides substances into three important hazard categories. It has assessed about 1,000 so far, with categories reflecting the strength of the scientific evidence.

At the top of the first category are substances known to cause cancer, including tobacco and alcohol.

Then there is category 2A, which contains chemicals and substances with a “possible” link, such as red meat.

Finally there is category 2B, with a “maybe” link. OMG, aspartame is now on the market with aloe vera and pickles.

Open aluminum can and glass of cola with ice on white. Image: iStock

Therefore, sweeteners fall into the least harmful category.

It reflects that the evidence for the link is rather weak.

Limited human studies either show no increased risk from aspartame consumption or show a weak association – although in these studies IARC could not rule out lifestyle, diet or underlying health problems affecting the results.

While IARC was conducting its assessment, another safety agency called JECFA (which reports to the United Nations) was also looking at the risks of consuming aspartame as a food additive.

Back in 1981, they set the acceptable daily intake for aspartame at 40 mg per kg of body weight.

After re-examination, they left the proposed limits unchanged. This is reassuring.

A 70kg adult would drink about 14 cans of Diet Coke a day to the limit.

A 10-year-old with an average weight of 32kg can safely consume just over six cans per day.

Most people are within these limits and needn’t worry.

Because of their smaller size, children are more likely to exceed the limit.

But it’s hard to see big brands changing formulas because of weak evidence of risk.

So if you’re concerned about your or your child’s aspartame intake, all you can do is switch from fizzy drinks to water — not easy once you have a sweet tooth.

Source link