According to a large study, consumption of sweeteners increases the risk of cancer

Given the harmful effects of excessive sugar consumption (weight gain, cardiometabolic disorders, cavities, etc.), the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting sugar consumption to less than 10% of day-to-day energy intake. . Sweeteners (such as aspartame, acesulfame-K or sucralose) reduce the added sugar content and associated calories while maintaining the sweet taste of the products. But the safety of these food additives is debated.

To assess the risks associated with their consumption, researchers from Inserm, Inerai, the Sorbonne Paris Nord University and CNM within the Nutrition Epidemiological Research Team (EREN) analyzed the health and sweetener consumption of 102,865 French adults participating in the Nutrinet-Sainte group. analyzed the data. Study. Followed for some time since 2009, these adults regularly completed questionnaires on their diets, including the names and brands of products consumed.

After collecting information on cancer diagnosis at follow-up (2009–2021), statistical analysis examined the relationship between sweetener consumption and cancer risk. People who consume the most sweeteners, in particular aspartame and acesulfame-K, have a higher risk of developing cancer, according to study results published this Thursday in the journal PLOS Medicine.

13% increased risk in the heaviest users

“In this study, the highest consumers, beyond average consumption, had a 13% increased risk of cancer compared to non-consumers,” said Dr Mathilde Touvier, director of research at Inserm. Among these cancers, higher risk was observed for breast cancer and those related to obesity.

Until now, studies had suggested that consumption of sugary drinks could promote the occurrence of cancer. But no one had specifically looked at the effects of sweeteners. The volunteers themselves declared their medical history, socio-demographic data, physical activities as well as indications of their lifestyle and health status.

“We cannot completely exclude consumer lifestyle-related biases, but taking into account several factors has made it possible to limit these biases,” explains study first author Charlotte Debras. He further added that further research in other large-scale groups would be needed to replicate and confirm these results.

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