What is the relationship between artificial sweeteners and cancer? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Aspartame is just the latest artificial sweetener to be implicated in an increased risk for cancer, according to the WHO. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says teasing out the role of obesity in this mix is challenging at best.

Nelson: I'm not sure artificial sweeteners are dangerous at all, there is no evidence that if you give them that they cause cancer in laboratory animals. The evidence that hinted that they might is a very small number of studies. It is almost always associated with cancer risk among people who have diabetes or obesity and so the question you have to ask yourself is that obesity that's driving the cancers and these people who are trying to combat obesity were trying to reduce their caloric intake or is it the stuff that was substituted for sugar to provide sweetness in beverages and this is not clear at all.  :32

Obesity is a known risk factor for increased cancer risk of several types, and weight loss can help reduce that risk, so for now, just avoid consuming very large amounts of artificial sweeteners as more studies are done. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.