February 24, 2024

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Artificial sweeteners linked to increased cancer risk

Artificial sweeteners linked to increased cancer risk


Large-scale study reveals artificial sweeteners linked to increased cancer risk. 

With economic development and improvement of living standards, obesity has become a major public health problem worldwide.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , nearly 2 billion people are overweight or obese in the world.

From 1975 to 2016, the global obesity rate has nearly tripled, and the number of deaths caused by overweight or obesity is as high as 2.8 million each year.


Obesity will not only lead to inconvenience in life and decreased exercise ability, but also bring about metabolic diseases and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.

In addition, many studies have shown that obesity is associated with an increased risk of more than a dozen cancers, and a decreased prognosis and survival rate.


In order to reduce the health effects of sugar and the impact of obesity, more and more people are using artificial sweeteners instead of normal sugars.

These artificial sweeteners have the sweetness of sugar but do not produce calories.

It can be used as a healthy diet, so it has become popular in recent years. However, the health effects of artificial sweeteners are still highly debated .


On March 24, 2022, researchers from the University of Paris XIII published a research paper titled: Artificial sweeteners and cancer risk: Results from the NutriNet-Santé population-based cohort study in the journal PLOS Medicine .


The use of artificial sweeteners can reduce the amount of added sugar and corresponding calories, but also maintain the sweetness, but this new study shows that some artificial sweeteners are associated with an increased risk of cancer.


Artificial sweeteners linked to increased cancer risk



Many foods and beverages containing artificial sweeteners are eaten by millions of people every day. However, the safety of these additives has been the subject of debate.


To assess the carcinogenic potential of artificial sweeteners, the research team analyzed data from 102,865 French adults who participated in the NutriNet-Santé study.

The NutriNet-Santé study is an ongoing web-based cohort study initiated by the Nutrition Epidemiology Research Group (EREN) in 2009.

Participants voluntarily signed up and self-reported medical history, sociodemographic, diet, lifestyle, and health data.


The research team collected data on artificial sweetener intake from 24-hour dietary records. After collecting information on cancer diagnoses during follow-up, statistical analyses were performed to investigate the association between artificial sweetener intake and cancer risk.


The team adjusted for a range of variables, including age, gender, education, physical activity, smoking, body mass index, height, weight gain during follow-up, diabetes, family history of cancer, as well as energy, alcohol, sodium, saturated fatty acids, fiber, sugar , baseline intake of whole grains and dairy products.


The researchers found that participants who consumed high amounts of artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame and acesulfame -K, had a higher overall risk of cancer compared with those who did not consume artificial sweeteners (hazard ratio 1.13, 95%).

The confidence interval is 1.03 to 1.25) . Among them , the risk of breast cancer and obesity-related cancers is higher.


Artificial sweeteners linked to increased cancer risk



The study had several important limitations; dietary intake was self-reported. Selection bias may also be a factor, as participants were more likely to be female, have higher levels of education, and exhibit health-conscious behaviors.

The observational nature of the study also means that residual confounding is possible and reverse causality cannot be ruled out.

Further studies are needed to confirm these findings and elucidate the underlying mechanisms.


According to the research team, the findings suggest that the use of artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar in foods or beverages is not as safe as we previously thought , and provides important and novel insights into the re-evaluation of food additive sweeteners.






Reference :

Artificial sweeteners linked to increased cancer risk

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