WHO: Aspartame is ‘possibly carcinogenic’

How much diet soda you need to drink to be worried

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Should you be thinking about how much diet soda you’re drinking?

Aspartame, the most popular artificial sweetener used in sugar-free soda and thousands of other food products, has been classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization.

While the findings mean food products containing aspartame can cause cancer, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a diet soda or two.

Dr. Samuel Cohen, an MD specializing in chemical carcinogenesis, said the risks are pretty low for the average person.

“Food agencies including Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives and the Food and Drug Administration have reevaluated aspartame periodically and they continue to affirm that it’s a safe ingredient,” Cohen said.

He said Thursday’s finding by the WHO may be misleading.

“Aspartame up to a level of 40 milligrams per kilogram per day for a lifetime is considered safe. Now, to put that in perspective, that’s about 10 times higher than even a heavy user of aspartame does on any given day. So, this is a wide safety margin,” Cohen said.

News4JAX spoke with a handful of people who drink diet soda. Most said they’re not too concerned about the possible health risks.

“It won’t change my habits. Everybody needs a Diet Coke every now and then!” Crystal Owens, a diet soda drinker, said. “I’m gonna die, that’s obvious. By carcinogens? Probably not.”

Dr. Cohen said more research can always be done but you only need to be concerned if you’ve been drinking 15-20 diet soda a day for your ENTIRE lifetime.

“It’s somewhere in the ballpark of 15 to 20 Cans per day for a lifetime. Not just periodically, but literally for a lifetime,” Cohen said.

Click here to read the full report from the World Health Organization.

SafetyofAspartame.com has also compiled a list of 100 studies and 200 scientists in 90 countries who affirm the safety of the popular artificial sweetener.

About the Author:

Tiffany comes home to Jacksonville, FL from WBND in South Bend, Indiana. She went to Mandarin High School and UNF. Tiffany is a former WJXT intern, and is joining the team in 2023 as Consumer Investigative Reporter and member of the I-TEAM.