Check Up: Diet Coke put on notice as WHO labels artificial sweetener aspartame ‘possibly carcinogenic’
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
After decades of research on artificial sweeteners, the World Health Organisation (WHO) will finally declare aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic”, capable of causing cancer to humans.
Aspartame is a common artificial sweetener used in a wide range of foods and beverages.
Discovered in 1965 and brought to market in 1981, aspartame is found not only in diet sodas like Diet Coke, but also in teas, chewing gums, and yogurts.
Although most of the food and drink products with aspartame are advertised as ‘healthy’ or ‘diet’ alternatives, their ability to reduce diabetes or obesity has never been clinically confirmed.
Instead, evidence suggests that the flavour of artificially sweetened-beverages increases hunger sensations and, as a result, causes weight gain.
Studies also found that those who consumed higher amounts of aspartame had a slightly higher risk (1.15 times) of developing cancer, especially breast and obesity-related cancers.
The FDA and American Cancer Society, however, both still deem aspartame safe for human consumption.
According to the FDA website, an adult weighing on 150 pounds (68kg) would have to ingest more than 18 cans of zero-sugar soda a day to experience severe negative health consequences from aspartame.
The reason, says the FDA, is that aspartame is 180-200 times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose), which means that only a very tiny amount is added to products.
Apart from Diet Coke and Coke Zero, foods that contain aspartame include sugar-free chewing gums, sugar-free gelatin like Jell-O, and tabletop sweeteners sold under brand names like Equal and Nutrasweet.
Industry groups are already calling the classification misleading and panicking.
“Aspartame is one of the most thoroughly researched ingredients in history, with over 90 food safety agencies across the globe declaring it safe,” says Frances Hunt-Wood, secretary general of International Sweeteners Association (ISA).
Coca Cola has also hit back, saying that aspartame is safe, and should only not be consumed by people with a rare genetic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU).
“Food and beverage products that contain aspartame carry a statement on the label alerting people with this condition to the presence of phenylalanine. But the fact that a small portion of the population has this rare condition does not mean in any way that aspartame is unsafe for other consumers,” said Coca Cola’s statement.
Meanwhile, the Food Standards of Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) also still considers aspartame as safe.
The FSANZ says the safety of aspartame has been comprehensively reviewed by FSANZ and other international organisations, and that all scientific evidence to date supports the safety of aspartame for use as a sweetener.
The WHO is due to officially announce its findings on 14th July.
Lumos was the best performing biotech stock over the past week and month, with its share price rocketing higher by 10x.
Lumos surged after receiving US FDA approval to market its FebriDx rapid, point-of-care test in the US, which could see a reduction in antibiotic use.
The clearance allows FebriDx to be marketed in the US for use by healthcare professionals as an aid in the diagnosis of bacterial acute respiratory infections.
LDX said FebriDx is intended to be used in conjunction with clinical signs and symptoms, including other clinical and laboratory findings, to evaluate patients for acute respiratory infection.
FebriDx is already registered in the UK, Europe, Canada, UAE, Brazil, Turkey, Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.
Atomo surged by almost 3x on Tuesday, with the company releasing a statement that it is not aware of any information that has not been announced to the market which could explain the share price move.
“It is noted however that on 3 July 2023, Atomo’s partner, Lumos Diagnostics announced to the market that it has received US FDA approval for its FebriDx test, which utilises Atomo’s user friendly integrated Pascal test platform, making Atomo a critical supplier to Lumos for this approved product,” said the statement.
“It is possible that the price movement in AT1 could be attributed to LDX’s announcement.”
Inoviq rose after revealing that its SubB2M/CA15-3 breast cancer test detects all stages of breast cancer with excellent accuracy (87%), sensitivity (81%) and specificity (93%) – outperforming a leading CA15-3 test.
IIQ intends to present the data and its development plans to potential partners and KOLs to advance commercial discussions for its SubB2M/CA15-3, SubB2M/CA125 and SubB2M multi-cancer tests.
Mach7 announced that it will participate in the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA’s) National Teleradiology Program (NTP).
As part of the contract, Mach7 will provide its VNA and eUnity Enterprise Diagnostic Viewer solutions which will help form the core of the NTP NextGen PACS architecture.
The VHA NTP is Veterans Affairs’ in-house teleradiology service which has been providing 24×7 service to VHA facilities for over a decade.
The NTP currently supports 125 sites across all 18 Veterans Integrated Services Networks (VISNs) and is projected to interpret between 1.0 and 1.5 million studies annually.