Is Aspartame a Carcinogen?

Mostafa I. Waly*

Department of Food Science and Nutrition, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman

*Correspondence Email Address: [email protected]

Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by James Schlatter a chemist (1). It is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener, L-aspertyl-L phenylalanine methyl ester that is a methyl ester of the dipeptide of the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine (1). Aspartame is an artificial (chemical) sweetener widely used in various food and beverage products since the 1980s, including diet drinks, chewing gum, gelatin, ice cream, dairy products such as yogurt, breakfast cereal, toothpaste and medications such as cough drops and chewable vitamins (2). The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified aspartame as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B) on the basis of limited evidence for cancer in humans (specifically, for hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a type of liver cancer) (3).
Aspartame has been extensively evaluated for genotoxic effects in cell culture and animal models (4). It has also been subject to a number of carcinogenicity studies and the genotoxicity of aspartame was evidenced using in vitro and in vivo studies (4). The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives concluded that the data evaluated indicated no sufficient reason to change the previously established acceptable daily intake of 0–40 mg/kg body weight for aspartame (5). The committee therefore reaffirmed that it is safe for a person to consume within this limit per day, with a can of diet soft drink containing 200 or 300 mg of aspartame, an adult weighing 70 kg would need to consume more than 9–14 cans per day to exceed the acceptable daily intake, assuming no other intake from other food sources (5).
In conclusion, 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.
Keywords: B-Vitamins Deficiency, Hyperhomocysteinemia, Obesity, Oxidative Stress
Citation: Mostafa I. Waly. Is Aspartame a Carcinogen? Canadian Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2023; 11 (2): 1-2.