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14th Jul 2023

Sweetener in Diet Coke is ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ but still safe to consume

Aspartame is “possibly carcinogenic to humans” but Diet Coke is still safe to consume.

The World Health Organisation confirmed that Aspartame has been classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

WHO’s Dr. Francesco Branca stated, “If consumers are faced with a decision of whether to take cola with sweeteners or with sugar, I think there should be a third option considered, which is to drink water instead.

“There are alternatives that do not contain either free sugars or sweeteners and those should be the products that should be preferred by consumers.”

WHO stressed that there is “limited evidence” and more research is needed. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified aspartame as possibly carcinogenic to humans

The artificial sweetener aspartame is used in diet drinks, ice cream, and breakfast cereal. It is also used in toothpaste and even some medications like cough drops.

Dr. Francesco Branca added, “The assessments of aspartame have indicated that, while safety is not a major concern at the doses which are commonly used, potential effects have been described that need to be investigated by more and better studies.”

Both WHO and the IARC confirmed it is safe for people to consume 0–40 mg/kg body weight of aspartame.

They conducted reviews to assess the potential carcinogenic hazard and other health risks associated with aspartame consumption.

Their findings found “limited evidence for cancer in humans specifically, for hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a type of liver cancer”.

The committee explained that it is safe to consume products with aspartame within the acceptable daily intake.

“With a can of diet soft drink containing 200 or 300 mg of aspartame, an adult weighing 70kg would need to consume more than 9–14 cans per day to exceed the acceptable daily intake.”