- IARC classified aspartame as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans.’ They found limited evidence that aspartame is carcinogenic in humans.
- The previous acceptable daily intake of 0-40mg/kg body weight of aspartame has not changed. That’s equivalent to drinking between nine and 14 cans of diet soda per day, assuming no intake from other sources.
- AICR’s Recommendations include limiting sugar-sweetened drinks and choosing mostly water and unsweetened drinks (such as unsweetened tea or coffee; infused water with fruits, lemon or herbs).
On July 14, 2023, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) published a joint evaluation on the potential health risks from the artificial sweetener aspartame.
For the first time, IARC has reviewed and assessed the evidence relating to potential carcinogenic effects of aspartame as part of its Monographs programme. It found limited evidence that aspartame is carcinogenic in humans; the evidence from animal studies and experimental studies was also limited. Therefore, it classified aspartame as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ (group 2B using the IARC Monographs Hazard Classification).
Simultaneously, JECFA reviewed the general health and nutrition risks of aspartame at usual consumption levels. It found insufficient evidence linking aspartame to the risk of cancer or other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. JECFA concluded that the previously established acceptable daily intake of 0-40mg/ kg body weight should not change. This is the equivalent of between nine and 14 cans of diet soda per day, assuming no other intake from other sources.
Our Cancer Prevention Recommendation to limit consumption of sugar- sweetened drinks and to drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks (such as unsweetened tea or coffee; infused water with fruits, lemon or herbs) remains appropriate in light of these evaluations. Following this advice, along with our other Recommendations, will give people the best chance of avoiding a preventable cancer.
We support the Report’s recommendations that future research should focus on well-conducted studies to better understand the relationship between aspartame and cancer risk and for more experimental studies to explore potential biological pathways. To strengthen our understanding of how diet, nutrition, physical activity and body weight influence cancer risk, we will continue to support, and advocate for, better research in these areas.