By Spencer D Gear
I have had people visit with my wife and me and when we took a cold can of diet Coke from the refrigerator for my consumption, the person would say something like: ‘Surely you are not drinking that stuff with artificial sweeteners. It’s dangerous’. Then a discussion pursued about the link between aspartame (and other artificial sweeteners) and cancer.
Then there are online statements such as, ‘Aspartame: By Far the Most Dangerous Substance Added to Most Foods Today’.
There’s a fair amount of information sweeping around the Internet and in personal conversation about how it has been shown that if one uses artificial sweeteners there is a risk of getting cancer.
Is it fact or fiction that consumption of artificial sweeteners leads to developing cancer? Could it be classified as an old wives’ tale, which is ‘a belief, usually superstitious or erroneous, passed on by word of mouth as a piece of traditional wisdom’? (The free dictionary)
Is it true?
You might be interested in this article from the National Cancer Institute, ‘Artificial sweeteners and cancer‘. One of its conclusions about research in this area is contrary to popular opinion: ‘There is no clear evidence that the artificial sweeteners available commercially in the United States are associated with cancer risk in humans’. Why don’t you read this summary of research to demonstrate this fact.
For other versions of this research, see:
- Cancer myths: Artificial sweeteners and cancer (Cancer Council, Western Australia);
- Diet and cancer – acrylamide, artificial sweeteners, green tea, soy, tomatoes and vitamin supplements (Cancer Research UK);
- Artificial sweeteners—do they bear a carcinogenic risk? (Annals of Oncology);
- Artificial sweeteners do not increase cancer risk (Cancer Council, NSW).
That information should put the cat amongst the pigeons or lay some falsehoods to rest.
The National Cancer Institute in the USA concluded:
Questions about artificial sweeteners and cancer arose when early studies showed that cyclamate in combination with saccharin caused bladder cancer in laboratory animals. However, results from subsequent carcinogenicity studies (studies that examine whether a substance can cause cancer) of these sweeteners have not provided clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans. Similarly, studies of other FDA-approved sweeteners have not demonstrated clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans.
So the conclusion that consumption of artificial sweeteners is linked to cancer is a fable. It is nothing more than an old wives’ tale.
Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.