Researchers find link between artificial sweeteners and cancer risk
Artificial sweeteners in foods or beverages reduce added sugar content and corresponding calories while maintaining sweetness.
But the study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, showed that people who consumed higher amounts of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame and acesulfame-K, had a higher overall cancer risk than non-consumers. Higher risks were observed for breast cancer and obesity-related cancers.
“Our results do not support the use of artificial sweeteners as safe alternatives to sugar in foods or beverages and provide important and novel information to address controversies regarding their potential adverse health effects,” said Charlotte Debras of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. (Inserm).
Debras added that the results are consistent with several experimental in vivo/in vitro studies that have also claimed the link between cancer and artificial sweeteners.
Researchers from Inserm and Sorbonne Paris Nord University in France analyzed data from 102,865 French adults.
Participants enrolled voluntarily and self-reported their medical history, socio-demographics, diet, lifestyle, and health. The researchers collected data regarding the consumption of artificial sweeteners from 24-hour food records.
After collecting information about cancer diagnosis during follow-up, the researchers performed statistical analyzes to investigate associations between artificial sweetener intakes and cancer risk.
The results suggest that artificial sweeteners, used in many food and drink brands around the world, may represent a modifiable risk factor for cancer prevention.
These results also provide new information in the context of the ongoing re-evaluation of food additive sweeteners by the European Food Safety Authority and other health agencies around the world.