Study suggests link between artificial sweetener and cancer - but should you ditch it?

  • 25/03/2022

A recent French study suggests there may be a link between artificial sweeteners and cancer risk, but one medical professional says we should continue to use them nonetheless.

University of Auckland senior lecturer in public health Dr Gerhard Sundborn told AM the large-scale study published by PLOS Medicine doesn't provide a clear picture.

"This issue has been researched a lot over the years, I think on the balance of evidence it still doesn't support a conclusive relationship that artificial sweeteners cause cancer."

So should you continue to use artificial sweeteners or switch to sugar?

"Without a doubt there is a lot of harm that sugar causes, when we look at dental caries and also metabolic health and obesity and of course, obesity is a risk factor for 13 cancers," Sundborn told AM.

He says products that contain natural sweeteners or artificial sweeteners will always be the better option than sugar. 

"The evidence around high sugar diets and sugar and drinks causing unhealthy weight, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, the list goes on,"

"The more sugar we can take out of our diets the better for us," he added.

The study's researchers analysed data of more than 100,000 people in France who self-reported their diet, lifestyle and medical history in intervals between 2009-2021.

The study found participants who consumed a higher amount of sweeteners had an increased cancer risk of 13 percent compared to those who didn't consume sweeteners at all.

It found the cancer risk to be particularly higher for those who consumed sweeteners aspartame and acesulfame potassium, both of which are used in soft drinks like Coke Zero. 

Watch the full interview above