Study Reaffirms the Safety of Aspartame

ATLANTA (July 26, 2013) — A new review in Food and Chemical Toxicologyreaffirmed the safety of aspartame.
The study,” Aspartame, low-calorie sweeteners and disease: regulatory safety and epidemiological issues,” examined the research that has been done over the past 22 years on the safety aspartame.

The researchers concluded that:  aspartame does not cause health problems such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, or preterm deliveries.

There was no association between aspartame and:

  • Brain cancer
  • Hematopoietic neoplasms (such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma)
  • Breast cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Preterm deliveries

“Aspartame has been tested for over three decades in more than 200 studies, with the same result: aspartame is safe,” said Haley Curtis Stevens, Ph.D., President of the Calorie Control Council, an association of manufacturers of low-calorie, sugar-free, reduced fat and “light” foods and beverages companies.   “Foods and beverages sweetened with aspartame offer lower calorie alternatives that can help people enjoy the foods and drinks they love while managing their health.”

Background on the study:
In a study titled, “Aspartame, low-calorie sweeteners and disease: regulatory safety and epidemiological issues” by Marinovich et al, the authors found that aspartame is not related to adverse health outcomes such as brain cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke or pancreatic cancer.

The authors reviewed studies published between 1990 and 2012, reviewing studies looking at the possible association between aspartame and unfavorable health outcomes such as cancer and adverse vascular events.

The authors reviewed epidemiologic research on aspartame related to cancers. A review of the literature on aspartame and brain cancer found that there was no increased risk of brain cancer in both children and adults who consumed aspartame-containing foods and beverages. Additionally, a review of the literature on aspartame and hematopoietic neoplasms, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, found no existence of an association. The authors also reviewed studies looking at the possible association of aspartame and other cancers such as breast and pancreatic cancer and found the lack of an association between aspartame and several common cancers.

The authors similarly reviewed research on aspartame as it was related to adverse vascular events and preterm birth. A review of the literature on aspartame and vascular events, such as stroke and heart disease, found no association. Additionally, a review of the literature on aspartame and risk of preterm birth found that with low levels of consumption among pregnant women, there was a lack of an association.

In addition to reviewing epidemiologic research on aspartame, the researchers reviewed studies related to potential toxicity. However, as the authors note, many other foods contain higher levels of aspartame metabolites than would be found in foods and beverages containing aspartame, such as fruit juices and non-fat milk. Additionally, the authors explained that toxicological studies in mice and rats that found adverse health effects such as leukemia and liver cancer were not scientifically sound, stating issues surrounding the methodology and replicability.

The authors of this review concluded that, “With reference to epidemiologic data, evidence on low-calorie sweeteners – and specifically aspartame – does not support the existence of a consistent association with hematopoietic neoplasms, brain cancer, digestive sites, breast, prostate and several other neoplasms. Similarly, low-calorie sweeteners are not related to vascular events and preterm deliveries.”

Items of Interest

July 26, 2013 Research Summaries