Study links use of artificial sweeteners to increased cancer risk
By Zoey Sky // Apr 06, 2022

A study published on March 24 in the journal PLOS Medicine linked the use of artificial sweeteners to greater cancer risk. The study backs data from earlier research that shows artificial sweeteners can increase cancer risk.


While artificially sweetened products have fewer calories and no sugar, they are not healthy at all. There is mounting evidence that the skyrocketing rates of obesity and cardiovascular disease in the U.S. are tied to the consumption of food products that contain artificial sweeteners.

The problem began when artificial sweeteners became more popular after countless studies conducted through the years confirmed that sugar damages your health. Sugar can cause weight gain and an increased amount of visceral fat, the kind of deep belly fat linked to health issues like diabetes and heart disease. Consuming too much sugar can also cause acne and depression.

And as the sugar industry misdirected the public, it also created a demand for products made with zero-calorie artificial sweeteners. In America, sugar-sweetened beverages are the main source of added sugar in the average American's diet. Added sugar counts for an estimated 341.1 calories from drinks in an adult's diet and 312.6 calories in a child's diet daily.

Despite this evidence, sugar-sweetened beverage sales continue to rise, from $314.4 million in 2013 to $414.8 million in 2021. This only emphasizes the addictive quality of sugar and artificially sweetened food and drink and how flawlessly the sugar industry hid the evidence that sweeteners are bad for you.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also stopped short of advising consumers to stop drinking sugar-sweetened beverages to avoid  various health issues – for a million-dollar reason.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, former director of the CDC, received $1 million in funding from Coca-Cola to allegedly fight childhood obesity during her six-year stint as commissioner of Georgia's public health department. Fitzgerald has also promoted the soda industry's "alternative facts," like both soda and junk food don't cause obesity.

According to statistics from 2016, 39.6 percent of American adults were obese, not just overweight. But by 2021, the figures went up: 42 percent of adults were obese and 35 percent were overweight.

The American Obesity Association believes that this trend will continue, with an estimate that at least half of the population will be obese by 2025 and 60 percent by 2030.

Beverage makers usually promote artificially sweetened products as a "healthier" alternative to sugar, which is an outright lie. Aside from causing obesity, artificial sweeteners are not safe alternatives to sugar since they are often associated with many health problems, such as cancer.

Artificial sweetener consumption and cancer risk

For the study, researchers from the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research and Sorbonne Paris Nord University in France took a closer look at the safety of artificial sweeteners.

The scientists examined data from 102,865 French adults enrolled in the ongoing NutriNet-Santé study against cancer risk. Enrollment was voluntary and participants self-reported their diet, lifestyle, health data, medical history and socio-demographic information.

Past studies resulted in conflicting findings, but the researchers wanted to take a closer look at the carcinogenicity of specific artificial sweeteners like acesulfame-K, also called Ace-K (marketed as Sunett and Sweet One), along with aspartame and sucralose.

The researchers analyzed overall cancer risk and cancer by the original site of tumor growth. The population-based cohort included data from 2009 to 2021 with a median follow-up time of 7.8 years. They also gathered data through a 24-hour dietary record and searched for associations between artificial sweeteners and cancer incidence.

The team adjusted the data for these factors known to affect cancer diagnosis:

  • Age
  • Family history of cancer
  • Physical exercise
  • Weight gain

According to the findings, participants who consumed the highest level of artificial sweeteners had a greater overall risk of cancer, with the highest risks observed for breast cancer and obesity-related cancers.

The researchers found links between cancer and aspartame and Ace-K consumption. Based on the findings, the researchers said they don't support the use of artificial sweeteners as safe alternatives for sugar in foods or beverages.

They believe data from the study can be used to "provide important and novel information to address the controversies about their potential adverse health effects." (Related: Natural sugar alternatives: How to grow Aztec sweet herb, stevia and sugar cane.)

The scientists advised that replicating the results of their study in other large-scale cohorts and underlying mechanisms clarified by experimental studies can help provide important and novel insights for the ongoing re-evaluation of food additive sweeteners by the European Food Safety Authority and other health agencies globally.

Watch out for artificial sweeteners in processed foods

Artificial sweeteners are used in different kinds of processed foods. Processed foods that contain artificial sweeteners usually include added sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or artificial sweeteners.

Food products labeled "light," "lite," or "low-calorie" usually contain artificial sweeteners. To lower your cancer risk, avoid buying diet soda, catsup, bottled salad dressing and "diet" foods.

One of the best ways to improve your eating habits and overall health is to give up soda, both those sweetened with sugar and with artificial sweeteners. Instead of soda, drink plain water to lower your cancer risk.

Watch the video below to learn how artificial sweeteners increase stroke and heart attack risk.

This video is from the Health Medicine channel on 

More related stories:

How does sugar drain your brain? Science explains.

Craving sweets late at night? It might be because of your phone.

Sugary drinks and disease: Chugging 2 sodas per day increases your risk of premature death.

Sources include:

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