Recent Study Shows No Association Between Low-Calorie Sweeteners and a Variety of Cancers

ATLANTA – A new study conducted by Italian and French researchers and published in the Annals of Oncology indicates there is no association between low-calorie sweeteners and cancer.  The researchers evaluated a variety of studies between the years of 1991 and 2004.  These studies assessed the relationship between low-calorie sweeteners and many cancers including oral and pharynx, oesophagus, colon, rectum, larynx, breast, ovary, prostate and renal cell carcinomas.  The researchers examined the eating habits of more than 7,000 men and women in their middle ages (mainly 55 years and over).  Based on the data evaluated, the authors noted, “In conclusion, therefore, this study provides no evidence that saccharin or other sweeteners (mainly aspartame) increase the risk of cancer at several common sites in humans.”

“This study further confirms what we have known for years – low-calorie sweeteners are safe and beneficial,” noted Lyn Nabors, President of the Calorie Control Council.  “While it is well established that being overweight increases the risk of developing certain types of cancer, low-calorie sweeteners and the products that contain them have been shown to be helpful in weight loss and control,” added Nabors.

Saccharin has been the subject of extensive scientific research and is one of the most studied ingredients in the food supply.  Although the totality of the available research has always indicated that saccharin is safe for human consumption, there has been controversy over its safety.  The basis for the controversy rested primarily on findings of bladder tumors in some rats fed high doses (the equivalent of hundreds of soft drinks per day) of sodium saccharin.  Extensive research on human populations has established no association between saccharin and cancer.  More than 30 human studies have been completed and indicate saccharin’s safety at human levels of consumption.

Importantly, in May 2000, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) released its 9th Report on Carcinogens and announced that saccharin had been delisted.  And on December 21, 2000, President Clinton signed federal legislation to remove the saccharin warning label that had been required on saccharin-sweetened foods and beverages in the U.S. since 1977 – ending any remaining controversy to the safety of saccharin.

Saccharin is approved in more than 100 countries around the world and has been reviewed and determined safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the World Health Organization, the Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union and many other health and regulatory bodies.

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The Calorie Control Council, established in 1966, is an international non-profit association representing the low-calorie and reduced-fat food and beverage industry. Today it represents 60 manufacturers and suppliers of low-calorie, low-fat and light foods and beverages, including the manufacturers and suppliers of more than a dozen different dietary sweeteners, fat replacers and other low-calorie ingredients.