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WHO classifies aspartame sweetener as a 'possible' carcinogen

The new label doesn't change the risk the sweetener presents, experts say.
WHO classifies aspartame sweetener as a 'possible' carcinogen
Posted at 9:54 PM, Jul 13, 2023

The World Health Organization has declared a common sweetener in diet sodas and other foods to be a possible cancer risk in humans.

The Who's International Agency for Research on Cancer said that artificial sweetener aspartame could be a "possible" cause of cancer.

The agency reviews a wide range of cancer hazards, ranging from "possibly" to "probably" carcinogenic. But it doesn't assign a specific level of risk to them.

That job falls to a separate panel: the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, which is overseen by The Who and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization. It investigated how risky aspartame might be. 

The group found there was "no convincing evidence" that current levels of aspartame intake in humans were dangerous, and it did not change its recommendations for safe levels of consumption.

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Those recommended maximums have been the same since 1981 - 40 mg of aspartame per kg of body weight, which is about a dozen cans of diet soda per day for an average person.

The new classification is not likely to change other expert recommendations on the sweetener, or affect the beverage industry.

"We're not advising consumers to stop consuming [aspartame] altogether," said Dr. Francesco Branca, nutrition director for the WHO. "We’re just advising a bit of moderation."

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