What you may have heard
Aspartame consumption can cause cancer.
What science tells us
With rising competition to make food sweet and appealing, as well as lower in calories, many companies switched from normal sucrose (table sugar) to sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is similar to sugar, but it is sweeter than sugar, and can be found in different foods and beverages (ACS).
Many studies have investigated whether or not artificial sweeteners and Aspartame have caused cancer (NCI), but no connection between cancer risk and Aspartame consumption has been found (ACS).
Laboratory Evidence/Supporting Evidence
There is no laboratory evidence that aspartame consumption leads to an increase in cancer risk.
IARC Carcinogen Classification: Not Classified
How to reduce your risk
Choose a sweetener that is FDA approved. These sweeteners have been studied extensively and are safe to consume. For example, sucrose (table sugar) and Aspartame are both good options, because they are FDA approved and have been proven to have little cancer risk, if any (ACS).
Consuming Aspartame or sugar-rich foods is often linked to higher chances of becoming obese, especially if they are not eaten in moderation. Obesity, or high BMI, has been linked to various types of cancers. Obese individuals have chronic inflammation, which, over time, can cause DNA damage that leads to cancer. They are also more likely to have other conditions or disorders that contribute to chronic inflammation: for example, Barrett’s esophagus, gallstones, ulcerative colitis, and hepatitis (NCI). To avoid excess body fat, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and have a goal of 150-300 minutes of weekly moderate physical activity (walking, running, hiking, etc.) (Mayo Clinic).
Eating food that contains Aspartame may not increase your cancer risk; however, a diet with excess sugar or Aspartame could have harmful health effects.
Learn More From These Trusted Sources
National Cancer Institute (NCI): Artificial sweeteners and cancer
American Cancer Society (ACS): Aspartame and cancer
Food and Drug Administration (FDA): High-intensity sweeteners permitted for use in food in the United States
Mayo Clinic: Obesity
July 6, 2021
Verified/updated: August 22, 2022