SHAFAQNA TURKEY. The news has reflected that aspartame, found in many foods and drinks, will be added to the list of “substances that may be carcinogenic”.
The definition of “substance which may be carcinogenic” is often confusing. This is because it does not give any indication of a high or low likelihood of cancer.
Other ingredients in the same category include aloe vera, diesel fuel, and pickled vegetables from Asia.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), will announce its decision on July 14.
What’s in my aspartame?
Aspartame, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar, can sweeten foods and drinks without the calories.
Also found in many diet or sugar-free foods and gums, aspartame is indispensable in drinks like Coca Cola Zero and Pepsi Max.
It is estimated that aspartame is used in 6,000 different foods.
This sweetener has been used for decades after obtaining the necessary approvals from food safety authorities.
But there has never been a lack of discussion about aspartame in this process.
To date, IARC has completed the screening process for 1,300 studies investigating the relationship between aspartame and cancer.
Speaking to people familiar with the process, Reuters wrote that aspartame would be added to the list of “possible carcinogens.”
But what does this definition mean?
According to information received by the BBC, an official IARC statement will be released on 14 July. On the same day, the dietary supplement expert committee is expected to issue a statement and publish an article in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Lancet Oncology.
“The IARC categories don’t tell us anything about how dangerous aspartame is, because those categories aren’t designed for that,” says Kevin McConway, professor of statistics at the Open University.
The IARC categories indicate how much scientific evidence is available about whether a substance is carcinogenic, not how dangerous it is.
A substance is placed in group 2B if there is “little evidence” in human or animal experiments.
prof. “There is no strong evidence that category 2B substances can cause cancer. If they were, they would be in category 2A or 1,” he says.
The IARC categories have caused confusion in the past and have been criticized for causing unnecessary concern.
When red meat was placed in Group 2A, there were those who equated the risk of eating meat with smoking.
Whereas if we were to feed 100 people an extra 50 grams of bacon each day for the rest of their lives, in addition to what they normally eat, only one in 100 would develop bowel cancer.
There are no comparable numbers for aspartame, but we can access additional data in a report from the WHO/Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) joint expert committee that will be published in July.
The WHO has stated that since 1981, a daily intake of 40 milligrams of aspartame has been safe.
This means that a person weighing 60 kg can safely drink 12 to 36 cans of drinks every day, depending on how much aspartame they contain.
Keith Loatman, executive director of the International Council of Beverage Associations, says health authorities should be “extremely concerned” by these “leaked comments”.
Loatman also warns that consumers may switch to sugary drinks when there is no sugar-free alternative due to misdirection.
Rick Mumford, Deputy Scientific Adviser at the UK Food Standards Agency, says they will carefully review the IARC report and adds:
“We believe this sweetener has been reviewed by various scientific committees and is safe when used within current limits.”
A study in the early 2000s linked aspartame to cancer in mice. But the results of the same study were criticized by other scientists, and other animal experiments did not reveal a risk of developing cancer.
Last year, a study of 105,000 people compared people who consumed high amounts of sweeteners with those who did not, and high sweetener consumption was associated with a higher risk of cancer.
However, the fact that there are large differences in the lifestyles of people who consume large amounts of sweeteners and those who do not consume them at all makes this relationship far from establishing a causal relationship.
“Aspartame is one of the most studied food ingredients in history, and more than 90 food safety agencies around the world say it’s safe,” says Francis Hunt-Wood of the International Sweeteners Association.
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