It’s time to play Kick the Can—of soda, that is.
In a 22-year landmark study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition involving over 125,000 people, significant links were found between daily intake of aspartame and the development of leukemia and lymphoma. (1) These findings are consistent with previous studies in animal models:
“A recent megaexperiment in 1800 rats tested at aspartame doses much lower than the currently acceptable daily intake (ADI) for humans reported a dose-dependent increase in lymphomas, leukemias, and transitional renal cell tumors.” (2, 3)
Broken down, here are the primary results of this mega-study.
- Consuming only one 12-ounce can of diet soda per day increased risk of lymphoma and myeloma (cancer of blood plasma), the incidence increasing in correlation with aspartame intake. The risk was much higher in men (it hasn’t been identified why that is the case).
- There is an elevated risk of lymphoma with higher consumption of non-diet soda in men than women.
- Annual consumption of aspartame in the United States is estimated at 5000-5500 tons and the most common product in which it is used is diet soda.
- Aspartame (especially in liquids) breaks down into asparitic acid, methanol, and phenylalanine; when ingested, methanol turns into formaldehyde—a known carcinogen.
- Previous studies that didn’t support a link between aspartame and cancer were limited in time and scope. This study included a large sample size and scientifically-viable time period and tested subjects at intervals throughout the study.
- Subjects’ measured aspartame intake included that added from packets (e.g., NutraSweet and Equal) and contributed to the weighting of the results.
- Subjects with a higher intake of diet soda had a higher body mass index and animal protein intake and were less likely to smoke. (This is highly significant: it is known that aspartame contributes to obesity and metabolic syndrome; the result noted here corroborates that finding. Additionally, this group of diet soda drinkers didn’t smoke cigarettes, discounting smoking as a contributing factor to the development of cancer in the study.)