Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose They are an increasingly common ingredient in many foods in recent years – from zero-calorie iced tea to supposedly healthier yogurt. Sucralose, for example, is about 600 times sweeter than conventional sugar, has no calories and is also said to be gentle on the teeth.
However, many researchers have been wondering for some time whether artificial sweeteners are actually as harmless as the producers have declared. Results from previous studies have linked aspartame and sucralose to type 2 diabetes and obesity. However, some of these studies have focused on only one area – eg ‘sweetener beverages’. Until now, there has been a lack of useful data on the general consumption of sweeteners in daily life,” explains the nutritional epidemiologist. Mathilde Saver for information. She is the Director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team at the Sorbonne University in Paris.
Data from over 100,000 adults
Touvier, along with the French team, has data from NutriNet-Health Study Used – This is a cohort online study in which participants voluntarily and independently enter their medical history, nutritional information, and more. The study has been around since 2009, so the research team led by Toffer and colleague Charlotte Debras had access to a very extensive database.
Experts collected information from more than 100,000 French adults about the foods they ate in an entire day. Through further research, they compared the data on diet with information from cancer diagnoses to see if there was a link between consuming artificial sweeteners and an increased risk of cancer. The study It is currently being presented by the team in the specialist journal “PLOS Medicine”.
Cancer risk increases with consumption of sweeteners
Besides aspartame and sclarose, they were the most common sweeteners consumed by adults as well acesulfame. Aspartame ranked first with 58 percent of the sweetener consumed, followed by acesulfame (29 percent) and sucrose (10 percent).
Of the more than 100,000 adults, about 3,300 were diagnosed with cancer over time, and about 600 were also considered “heavy users” of artificial sweeteners. Specifically, the research team’s investigations show that increased consumption of sweeteners like aspartame and acesulfame can lead to an average 13 percent increased risk of cancer — and a higher risk of certain types of cancer than others. The study showed that the risk of developing breast cancer increased by about 22 percent. According to the researchers’ data, the risks of developing cancers generally associated with obesity (such as stomach and colon cancer) were also above average.
According to Tawfeer, the investigation was also limited in a few areas. For example, researchers were unable to verify the accuracy of medical questionnaires that adults filled out themselves. In addition, more women of higher educational status participated in the NutriNet-Santé study – so the result may be somewhat skewed in some areas. According to Toffier, further investigations are the most important.
Less sweet food in stores
“Our research tells us that artificial sweeteners cannot be considered a ‘safe’ alternative to sugar,” Touvier explains. Of course, excessive sugar intake has clearly demonstrated negative health consequences. So the nutritional epidemiologist demands: “We simply have to reduce the overall consumption of sweet foods and offer less sugary products or sweeteners in stores.”
It is often the norm to forego a sweet coffee in the morning or a bar of chocolate in between. Getting children used to a diet with little sweets early on can help. Toffer also hopes that the association between sweeteners and cancer will encourage officials to reconsider the use of sweeteners.