But according to the World Health Organization (), this artificial sweetener can however continue to be consumed. But consumption remains recommended at 40 mg/kg per day, insists another assessment published on Friday in Geneva.
According to three studies analyzed by the International Cancer Research Agency (Circ), which is part of WHO, “damaging” effects as liver cancers have been identified in humans or animals. But “more research will have to be carried out,” said WHO.
This without nutritional value is widely used since the 1980s as a table sweetener.
Little caloric and 200 times more sweet than sugar, aspartames are found everywhere: light sodas, light yogurt, sugar, flavored chips, chewing gums, breakfast cereals, as well as in medications, such as pastilles against cough, and other products such as toothpaste.
This is the first time that this food additive has been assessed by the International Center for Research on Cancer.
“Aspartame assessments have indicated that, although security is not a major concern in commonly used doses, potential effects have been described and must be studied by more numerous and better quality studies,” said Doctor Francesco Branca, director of the Nutrition, Health and Development Department.
However, he does not advise companies to withdraw their products. “We do not advise consumers either to stop their consumption completely,” he said.
The WHO Institute based in Lyon (CIRC) has classified aspartame as perhaps carcinogenic for humans (group 2B) on the basis of limited evidence of cancer in humans (in particular, for hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a type of liver cancer). Evidence of cancer in laboratory animals were also limited, as well as evidence relating to possible carcinogenicity mechanisms.
Another joint study conducted by WHO and the organization of the UN for food and agriculture () claims not to have identified a “sufficient reason” to change the consumption recommendation. For an adult of 70 kg, no more than nine soda cans for example per day and no more than 3 for a 30 kg child.
“The limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and animals, as well as the limited mechanistic evidence on the way in which carcinogenicity can occur, underline the need to continue research in order to refine our understanding of the question of whether the consumption of aspartame presents a risk of carcinogenicity,” said Dre Mary Schubauer-Berigan,
More broadly, the decision to place aspartame in this group was made on the basis of “limited indications” relating to cancer in humans, in particular, for hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a type of liver cancer, according to WHO. Concretely, an adult of 70 kilos should drink more than 9 to 14 soda cans per day to exceed the admissible daily dose, a threshold set by JECFA, an international committee of food additives. And such a threshold, it is by assuming that there are no other contributions from other food sources.
The identification of DANGERS by CIR is the first fundamental step to understand the carcinogenicity of an agent by identifying its specific properties and its potential to cause damage, that is to say cancer.
Note that cancer is one of the main causes of death in the world. Each year, one in six people die of cancer.
“Science continues to develop to assess any initiator or facilitators of cancer, in the hope of reducing these figures and the number of victims,” said Dr. Branca. But if you have to choose “between a cola with sweetener and a cola with sugar, I think a third option should be considered: drinking water,” he concluded.