With World Health Organization (WHO) declaring that artificial sweetener aspartame widely used in diet drinks could cause cancer, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday said it is a matter of serious concern.
“Diet drinks have become a routine part of people’s lives and the cancer link to these drinks is alarming,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hasan.
Dr Hassan said the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is the arm of WHO has linked sweetener aspartame to increased risk of liver cancer.
The conclusion is based on three large human studies conducted in the US and Europe that examined artificially sweetened beverages.
“The risk is particularly high in those who are taking an excess of these soft drinks,” he said.
The DAK President said concerns about rising rates of obesity and diabetes have resulted in an explosion of no or low-sugar foods and beverages Aspartame, a low-caloric artificial sweetener is used in Diet Coke, Pepsi zero sugar and other diet sodas as a substitute for sugar with the aim that the sweetener can help consumers manage body weight and reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases.
“However, research has found that replacing free sugar with non-sugar sweetener like aspartame does not help with weight control in the long term,” he said adding “artificial sweeteners have also been linked with higher risk of developing diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease, as well as of dying.”
“People should avoid diet drinks as aspartame has no health benefits and is a possible carcinogen. They should reduce the sweetness of the diet altogether,” said Dr Nisar.
“Food industry should consider changing ingredients to make products without the use of artificial sweeteners,” he said.