Study links artificial sweeteners to increased risk of developing cancer

Consuming artificial sweeteners can increase your risk of developing cancer, according to a new observational study.

A team of French researchers found that consuming large quantities of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame and acesulfame-K, was associated with a 13% higher risk of cancer.

More specifically, the highest likelihood of cancer developing was in cases of breast cancer and cancers related to obesity.

However, researchers did say that they couldn’t establish causality between artificial sweeteners and cancer.

Furthermore, they noted that people who consume the median intake of 18 milligrams a day for artificial sweeteners did not have nearly has high a risk of those who consume above the median level.

Over 41% of adults and 25% of children in the U.S. use artificial sweeteners, making up nearly half of the country’s population, according to a separate 2017 study on the topic.

Medical News Today reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved six such substances as being safe for consumption at typical daily intake levels.

“Findings from this study are very original since, to our knowledge, no previous cohort study had directly investigated the association between quantitative artificial sweetener intakes per se, from all dietary sources — distinguishing the different types of sweeteners — and cancer risk,” the study’s lead author Charlotte Debras told Medical News Today.

Dr. Mathilde Touvier, another researcher, said that among all the artificial sweeteners — acesulfame-K, aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, steviol glycosides and salt of aspartame-acesulfame — “aspartame and acesulfame-K were by far the most frequently consumed artificial sweeteners.”

The team of researchers is associated with the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team of Sorbonne Paris Nord University’s French Institute for Health and Medical Research; the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, and the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment in France

The researchers analyzed the histories of 102,865 adults participating in the ongoing NutriNet-Santé study that began collecting data in 2009.

Participants were followed for the new research over an average of 7.8 years.

You can find the study here.

Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

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