Scientific articles emphasize that the carcinogenicity of the sweetener is dose dependent.
In mid-July, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a division of the WHO) will update the list of carcinogens, that is, substances that contribute to the development of cancer. The artificial sweetener aspartame will be blacklisted, Reuters has found. If you remember where this sweetener is located, you can seriously freak out. Aspartame is part of many “diet” soft drinks, including overseas colas and their counterparts in our country, chewing gum, ice cream and confectionery. It turns out that by using all these drinks and food, we trigger the development of tumors with our own hands? We asked Yuri Poteshkin, neuroendocrinologist, PhD, Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Atlas Clinic Network, to explain what the WHO was guided by and how dangerous the popular sweetener is.
36 CANS OF COLA PER DAY
– If we look at the results of the studies that are available to date, we will not see evidence anywhere that aspartame is definitely carcinogenic to humans. Scientific articles emphasize that the carcinogenicity of such a sweetener depends on the dose. What does it mean? Diet Coke, for example, requires 12 cans a day to be dangerous. This provided that each jar contains the maximum permissible concentration of aspartame (according to Russian standards, the maximum dose is up to 40 mg per kg of body weight. – Ed.). But usually on the packages it is indicated that the content of the sweetener is 3-6 times less than the permissible amount. Therefore, in fact, for a carcinogenic effect, you will need to drink at least 36 cans of cola per day, explains Yuri Poteshkin.
At the same time, the inclusion of aspartame in the official list of potential carcinogens is quite justified, the expert believes. This approach will lead to a more accurate perception of the sweetener compared to sugar.
– The WHO has long recognized and warned that the abuse of sugar is dangerous. This leads to obesity, provokes the development of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc. With regard to aspartame, which is widely used, there have not yet been any official warnings about the possible risks. This gives rise to the misconception among consumers that the sweetener is almost a panacea. Like, “diet” soda can be drunk instead of water, – says Yuri Poteshkin. – Given that there is scientific evidence of a dose-dependent carcinogenic effect of aspartame, the WHO decided to adapt its documents to reality. This is not to say that terrifying new research findings have suddenly appeared. The World Health Organization is only documenting what is already known.
And yet, the inclusion of aspartame in the official list of potential carcinogens is fully justified.
FOUR DANGER LEVELS
An important point is in which group of potential carcinogens aspartame is planned to be included, says the expert. There are four categories on the International Agency for Research on Cancer list of carcinogenicity of substances and events:
– group 1: carcinogenic to humans. Lists substances that have been shown to cause cancer (currently 126 points);
– group 2A: possibly carcinogenic to humans. 94 points, the association of these substances with the development of tumors has been verified in animals, in relation to humans, the data are limited, more research is required;
– group 2B: potentially carcinogenic to humans, 322 points. The likely association with cancer development is weaker than in group 2A, more research is needed;
– group 3: substances that “are not classified as carcinogenic to humans” (that is, they are not currently suspected of causing cancer. – Ed.). 500 points
– It is planned to add aspartame to group 2B, – says Yuri Poteshkin. – This is the lightest level of potential danger, immediately following the group of safe substances (Group 3). We can say that it is a “possible carcinogen”.
What is the best sugar substitute?
– Yuri, what do you think of sweeteners as a practicing endocrinologist? What recommendations do you give your patients with obesity, diabetes?
– Since artificial sweeteners, if the dosage is exceeded, can still have a carcinogenic effect, then my colleagues and I act according to this principle. First, we recommend that patients change their overall diet to a healthier one. Add vegetables, fruits, reduce sugar intake and reduce total calories. If it is extremely difficult for a person, he honestly tries, but categorically cannot reduce sugar in his diet to the required minimum, he suffers from this, then we can recommend sweeteners. At the same time, in the Russian scientific and medical community, the natural sweetener stevia has been recognized as the safest today (there are no studies on its connection with cancer). We recommend replacing sugar with it.
TO THE POINT
What substances and influences cause cancer?
The “black list” of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in the group with the first highest level of danger, in particular, includes:
– tobacco, including passive smoking;
– solar radiation;
– processed meat (sausages, sausages);
– Chinese salted fish (prepared with a lot of salt);
– postmenopausal estrogen therapy.
In group 2A (a fairly high probability of carcinogenicity, but there are no definitive data), among others, the following are indicated:
– consumption of very hot drinks (temperature above 65°C);
– Red meat;
– substances formed during frying of food at high temperatures (above 170°C).
! Important: In most cases, a substance or effect produces a carcinogenic effect if its permissible concentration is exceeded. The exception is alcohol and tobacco: the WHO recognizes them as cancer provocative in any quantity.
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