Will your diet soda give you cancer? How about effects on the gut microbiota?

This is a topic that gives creates the most controversy on our page, but we need to stress the fact that several analyses of the evidence show NO convincing data to support that artificially sweeteners, particularly aspartame which is most well studied, causes cancer.

Most studies indicating a risk are OBSERVATIONAL and low quality (cross sectional, case control etc). They find “links” between sweeteners and disease, but don’t let us know if sick people use more sweeteners or if the sweeteners make them sick. The best evidence is EXPERIMENTAL trials and prospective observational studies, and these show no risks.

We’ve gotten a lot of questions on effects on the gut microbiome. A study in Nature found that gut bacteria and insulin response are affected in MICE after getting articifial sweeteners, but mostly in response to saccharin, an uncommon sweetener.

Similar effects were seen in 4 out of 7 humans given saccharin, but whether this is dangerous still uncertain. After all, SUGAR had a much clearer effect but in mice and humans.
EBT (Evidence Based Training) M.Ds with a passion for fitness & nutrition making science simple. Build muscle, burn fat, perform better. Like, comment & follow us on IG & Facebook, and check out ebtofficial.com for our full blog with tons of free content. Also please share research with us as we love discussions! The information above is not medical advice.

1. Systematic review and evaluation of aspartame carcinogenicity bioassays using quality criteria. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2018.01.009

2. Health outcomes of non-nutritive sweeteners: analysis of the research landscape doi: 10.1186/s12937-017-0278-x
3. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. doi:10.1038/nature13793

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