Evaluation of aspartame cancer epidemiology studies based on quality appraisal criteria

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Autor(en) : Haighton L, Roberts A, Jonaitis T, Lynch B
Name der Veröffentlichung : Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 2019; 103: 352-362
Erscheinungsjahr : 2019

Abstract

Given the widespread use of the low-calorie sweetener aspartame over the last 30 years, the current work was undertaken to evaluate aspartame epidemiology studies looking at cancer endpoints against quality appraisal criteria. The quality appraisal tool used was from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institute of Health. Studies identified included nine case-control studies and five prospective cohort studies. Most studies assessed low-calorie or diet beverages rather than aspartame intake specifically; however, common use of aspartame in diet sodas does allow for some general extrapolation of results. Following consideration of study quality, two case-control and five prospective studies were considered to meet the majority of the NHLBI criteria. The primary limitation of the other case-control studies was an inadequate sample size. Overall, the results of the studies do not support that exposures to low and no-calorie sweeteners and beverages, and by extension aspartame, are associated with an increased risk of cancer in humans.

Summary

The collective evidence from published epidemiological data support that low calorie sweeteners including aspartame are not associated with an increased risk of cancer in humans. The conclusion of the current review paper is in line with findings of experimental animal data showing lack of carcinogenicity from aspartame consumption.

In total, 42 publications appeared to address, in some respect, the carcinogenic potential of aspartame to humans. The vast majority of the publications identified were review papers or short communications as opposed to original research. The publications determined to be reports of original epidemiology studies included one ecological study, nine case-control studies, and five prospective cohort studies. Most studies assessed low-calorie or diet beverages rather than aspartame intake specifically; however, common use of aspartame in diet sodas does allow for some general extrapolation of results and inclusion of these studies in this review.

Following consideration of study quality, two case-control and five prospective studies were considered to meet the majority of the NHLBI criteria. The primary limitation of the other case-control studies was an inadequate sample size. Current cancer epidemiology literature does not support that consumption of diet drinks or use of packets of LCS and, by association, aspartame, is associated with an increased risk of cancer in humans.

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