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WHO classifies aspartame as ‘possible’ carcinogen: How concerned should consumers be?

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

Consumers worldwide are expressing concern after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a committee of the World Health Organization, classified aspartame, an artificial sweetener used in over 6,000 products, as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”


The classification falls in the third category of IARC’s four-tier system, implying limited evidence and a need for further research.

Other substances sharing this classification include aloe vera, pickled vegetables, some vehicle fuels, and certain dry-cleaning chemicals.


It is important to note that another WHO committee maintains its current daily maximum intake recommendations for aspartame at 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

An average American weighing 184 pounds can consume up to 33 cans of diet soda daily and stay within these limits.

However, the FDA disagrees with IARC’s classification, citing “significant shortcomings” in the research relied upon. Amid these mixed messages, the wisdom of moderation in consumption seems prudent, as does limiting intake of substances such as red meat and natural sugars.



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