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WHO to declare Aspartame sweetener as possibly carcinogenic – Cancer report

The cancer research arm of the World Health Organisation (WHO), is set to declare Aspartame, one of the most common artificial sweeteners in soft drinks as a possible carcinogen.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than sugar and widely used in low-calorie products. The sweetener is used in several drinks including Diet Coke and chewing gums.

While aspartame has been used for decades and is approved by food safety bodies, there have been several controversies around the ingredient.

The ruling by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), was reportedly finalised earlier in June after a meeting of the agency’s external experts and a review of about 1,300 studies on aspartame and cancer.

According to Reuters, two sources with knowledge of the process said the IARC will publicly list aspartame on July 14 as “possibly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans” for the first time.

However, the ruling does not take into account how much of a product a person can safely consume.

The IARC ruling has four levels of classification, carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic and not classifiable. All levels are based on the strength of the evidence.

Meanwhile, the joint WHO and Food and Agriculture Organisation’s expert committee on food additives (JECFA), is also reviewing aspartame use this year.

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