A Pepsi Pepsi Zero Sugar can can is lined up on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Tusquilva, Illinois.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration disagreed with the World Health Organization’s findings that the widely used soda sweetener aspartame may cause cancer in humans, saying the research used to reach that conclusion had “significant flaws.”

“Aspartame is one of the most studied food additives in the human food supply. FDA scientists have found no safety concerns when using aspartame under approved conditions,” the agency said shortly after the World Health Organization released its findings Thursday evening. agency spokesman said.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has found a possible link between aspartame and a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma after reviewing three large human studies in the United States and Europe.

According to the World Health Organization, aspartame is used as a sugar substitute in about 6,000 products worldwide. Calorie Control Councila trade group representing manufacturers of artificial sweeteners.

Artificially sweetened beverages have historically been the largest source of exposure to aspartame. This sugar substitute is used in diet sodas such as Diet Coke and Pepsi Zero Sugar.

Aspartame is widely used because it is 200 times sweeter than sugar, which means drinks containing the alternative taste similar to sugary products but are lower in calories.

Dr. Mary Schubauer-Berigan, a senior official at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), stressed that the World Health Organization had limited evidence to list aspartame as a possible carcinogen.

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Schubauer-Berrigan acknowledged at a news conference with reporters Wednesday that the studies may have flaws that biased the results. The classification should be seen as a call for more research into whether aspartame causes cancer in humans, she said.

“This really shouldn’t be taken as a direct indication of a known cancer risk from aspartame consumption,” Schubauer-Berrigan said.

Classifying aspartame as “probably carcinogenic to humans” doesn’t mean the sugar substitute is actually linked to cancer, an FDA spokesperson said. Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority have also concluded that aspartame is safe at the levels currently permitted, the spokesperson said.

The evidence for a link between aspartame and human cancer is not convincing, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, an independent body of international scientists, said on Thursday. JECFA is an international organization made up of scientists from the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

JECFA advises on the amount of product that people can safely consume. The organization maintains its recommendation that 40 mg of aspartame per kilogram of body weight per day for a person’s lifetime is safe.

A 70-kilogram (154-pound) adult would have to drink more than nine to 14 cans of soda containing aspartame a day or exceed the limit and risk health risks.

In an August 2022 letter, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the World Health Organization that JECFA was better placed to provide public health advice on the safety of aspartame in food.

This is because JECFA reviews all available data, including public and private proprietary information, while IARC only reviews public data.

“Thus, by comparison, the IARC review of aspartame is incomplete and its conclusions may confuse consumers,” said Mara Burr, head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Multilateral Relations. wrote in the letter.

The FDA’s recommendation is slightly higher than JECFA’s and says it is safe for a person to consume 50 mg of aspartame per kilogram of body weight per day for a lifetime.A person weighing 132 pounds must consume 75 packets of aspartame This limit is reached every day.

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