The World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), is expected to label aspartame, one of the most used artificial sweeteners in soft drinks, as a probable carcinogen.
Aspartame is a synthetic sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is commonly found in low-calorie foods.
The sweetener is found in a variety of beverages, including Diet Coke. It’s also found in chewing gum.
While aspartame has been used for decades and is permitted by food safety authorities, the substance has been the subject of various debates.
According to two persons familiar with the process, the IARC will publicly label aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans” for the first time on July 14th.
After a meeting of the agency’s external specialists and a review of around 1,300 papers on aspartame and cancer, the IARC verdict was stated to have been finalized earlier in June.
The verdict, however, does not consider how much of the substance a person can safely ingest.
The IARC classification is carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, potentially carcinogenic, and not classifiable.
The evidentiary strength determines the level.
This year, the expert committee on food additives (JECFA) of the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization is also examining aspartame use.
The committee’s meeting began at the end of June, and its results are expected to be released on the same day as the IARC makes its decision public.
According to an IARC representative, both the IARC and JECFA committees’ results are confidential until July, but they are “complementary.”
According to the spokesperson, the IARC’s assessment is “the first fundamental step toward understanding carcinogenicity.”