What Is Aspartame, and Why Are Health Authorities Investigating It?

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Aspartame is a popular artificial sweetener that is used as a sugar substitute in many foods and drinks and probably in some that you use. This substance has historically been considered safe by the FDA and other health and wellness regulation and research organizations, but it seems that there’s a chance that this will change. What exactly is aspartame, and why are health authorities investigating it now? Read on below to find out.

What is Aspartame?

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is used as a sugar substitute in many foods and drinks. Aspartame is up to 200 times more sweet than sugar and is often used as a sugar substitute in all sorts of foods and beverages.

Aspartame is made through fermentation and synthesis processes. In the fermentation process, specific types of bacteria that have the ability to produce certain amino acids are raised in large quantities. These amino acids derived from the fermentation process are modified to produce aspartame.

Aspartame has generally been viewed as safe

Aspartame has been approved for use in the United States since 1981 and has generally been viewed as safe by the FDA. However, rumors, stories, and concerns about aspartame causing a number of health problems, including even cancer, have been around for decades. Some people have reported headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms after consuming aspartame, but whether or not aspartame causes the symptoms has never been conclusively proven.

Could aspartame be a carcinogen? The WHO’s potential designation

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been investigating whether aspartame could be a carcinogen. The WHO is set to declare aspartame a possible human carcinogen. The designation means it may cause cancer. It’s unclear how much aspartame is a potential issue for people consuming it. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has also reviewed the safety of aspartame and concluded that it is safe for human consumption.

Side effects and health concerns related to aspartame

Some research seems to suggest that aspartame can increase your risk of certain types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, urinary tract tumors, and neurological tumors. Dozens of studies have linked the popular artificial sweetener aspartame to serious health problems, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, seizures, stroke, and dementia. 

There are also studies that suggest that aspartame is safe for human consumption, however. The American Cancer Society has stated that there is no clear evidence that any artificial sweetener approved for use in the U.S. causes cancer or other serious health problems but recognizes that it cannot determine this for sure and defers to the opinions and findings of other organizations.

Is aspartame in the food you regularly eat?

Aspartame is found in many products, such as diet sodas, yogurts, chewing gums, candies, vitamins, and medicines. If you want to avoid or limit aspartame, you can also look for natural sweetening alternatives, such as stevia, monk fruit, or honey. Some health experts even suggest that in many cases eating traditional sugar may be healthier than certain artificial sweeteners.