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WHO, aspartame classified as possibly carcinogenic substance

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has decided to place aspartame, the name of the artificial sweetener commonly used in soft drinks, on the list of possibly carcinogenic substances, category Group 2B.

Don't panic, though. This classification as a possible carcinogen only affects large consumers, but should not change anything for those who use it to a limited extent. Group 2B, in fact, is the second lowest on the scale.

Just to give a few examples, aloe vera extract and caffeic acid found in tea and coffee are also in this 2B category. In fact, there are daily doses of aspartame that are not considered dangerous by the WHO itself.

By Steve Snodgrass - Flickr: Sugar Dish, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=
Aspartame classified as a possible carcinogen by WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has decided to place aspartame, the name of the artificial sweetener commonly used in soft drinks, on the list of possibly carcinogenic substances, category Group 2B. The analyses were conducted specifically for hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer
By Steve Snodgrass - Flickr: Sugar Dish, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=
Category Group 2B
Don't panic, though. This classification as a possible carcinogen only affects large consumers, but should not change anything for those who make limited use of it. Group 2B, in fact, is the second lowest on the scale.
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The four categories
The IARC, the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer, i.e. the one that conducted the evaluation on aspartame, classifies the hazard of substances into four different levels: carcinogenic to humans (group 1), probable carcinogen (group 2A), possible carcinogen (group 2B), not classifiable as carcinogen (group 3).
By Nicholas Gemini - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3209791
Other substances in Group 2B
Just to give a few examples, aloe vera extract and caffeic acid found in tea and coffee are also in this 2B category. In fact, there are daily doses of aspartame that are not considered dangerous by the WHO itself.
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The daily dose
The recommended daily intake (i.e. not to be exceeded) ranges from zero to 40 milligrams of aspartame per kilogram of body weight, and was established in 1981. A second group, Jecfa, the joint committee of experts on food additives formed by the WHO and another UN agency, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, did not deem it necessary to change this dose, despite the fact that the WHO placed the sweetener in category 2B. It was calculated that a consumer (an average adult weighing 70 kg) would have to drink between 9 and 14 cans of soft drink to be at serious risk.
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WHO's words.
Francesco Branca, director of nutrition and food safety at the World Health Organisation, says: 'We are not advising companies to withdraw products, nor are we advising consumers to stop consuming them altogether, we are just urging moderation. Mary Schubauer-Berigan of the Iarc stated that 'these are the only epidemiological studies that have looked at liver cancer. We have, in a sense, sent a signal that we need to clarify the situation much better, but it is also not something we can dismiss. The problem is for the big consumers, those who drink a soft drink every now and then should not worry'.
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19/04/2024
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