Artificial sweeteners are used widely in foods and beverages as an alternative to added sugars. These low- and no-calorie food additives have high sweetening power, nearly 200 to 600 times sweeter than table sugar. Artificial sweeteners include several types: aspartame (e.g., NutraSweet or Equal), acesulmam-K (e.g. Sunett or SweetOne) and sucralose (e.g. Splenda).
About 40 percent of adults in the US regularly consume artificial sweeteners. The safety of artificial sweeteners has long been debated. Studies looking at links between artificial sweeteners and cancer have had mixed results – some show a link, while others do not. However, most studies have focused only on artificially sweetened beverages, which may underestimate the total intake of artificial sweeteners due to their wide use in processed foods.
A large French study of over 100,000 people looked at different types of artificial sweeteners and evaluated the risk of cancer associated with total intake from all sources. The results suggests that artificial sweeteners in food and beverages are linked to a small but notable increase in cancer rates among consumers.
Read more about artificial sweeteners and cancer in FORCE’s XRAY review.