Aspartame, a key ingredient in Diet Coke that Tesla CEO and author Elon Musk and former President and author Donald Trump are known to guzzle, could potentially cause cancer, The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced. The decision has been keenly globally awaited since last month.
“The WHO declared that aspartame, a widely used artificial sweetener in diet drinks and low-sugar foods, might be a potential carcinogen,” said the New York Times in a report.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of WHO, came to this conclusion on the basis of limited evidence from three observational studies that linked the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages to an increase in cases of liver cancer.
According to their calculations, a person weighing 150 pounds could still consume about a dozen cans of diet soda a day without increasing their risk of cancer. “Our results do not indicate that occasional consumption should pose a risk to most,” said Dr. Francesco Branca, director of the WHO Department of Nutrition and Food Safety.
Despite this, another WHO committee held steady on its assessment of a safe level of aspartame consumption.
“Diet Coke brand holds a market share of 8% in the U.S., as per 2021 data,” said Statista. As one of the Coca-Cola Company’s leading brands, Diet Coke’s popularity remains high despite concerns over its impact on health.
Musk an astute business executive and the most followed person on Twitter, previously said he “doesn’t care if the drink lowers my life expectancy,” highlighting the widespread consumption of aspartame-containing products.
“It was also reported that Trump was constantly downing Diet Coke during his 2016 campaign trail,” said Benzinga.
The American Beverage Association, representing Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, has been vocal in saying that the WHO’s food additive panel, not the cancer experts, should be the lead authority evaluating aspartame.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has criticized the global agency’s findings. The FDA maintains its stance that aspartame is safe, disputing the classification of the sweetener as a possible carcinogen by the IARC.
Produced in association with Benzinga
Edited by Bhujaya Ray Chowdhury and Judy J. Rotich