As a fan of Diet Coke, I have always vouched for its zero calories and no fat product over its companion, coca cola. The carbonation and sweet taste have always brought my taste buds pleasure. However, I have always been curious as to how Diet Coke is able to taste so good with a non-existent calorie count on the label. I recently discovered the answer to my curiosity; the product used to create such appealing taste is a controversial artificial sweetener known as aspartame.
Aspartame has recently been labeled as a potentially cancerous product, turning many away from products where its name is shown on the ingredients label. It is frowned upon by household health freaks, but are their concerns valid?
Aspartame is an economic blessing for large brand producers. According to the American Cancer Society, the artificial sweetener is much more effective in producing a sweeter taste with less quantity than using actual sugar. Therefore, because a small amount of aspartame produces the same taste as an exponential amount of actual sugar, the calories within the product decreases dramatically. Naturally, from the mindset of a giant producer such as the Coca-Cola Company, this product is appealing financially. However, as much as aspartame is beneficial to Coca-Cola Company, it is potentially just as much as a hazard to the health of all who consume it.
As aspartame became more and more popular for industries looking to save money by mimicking sugar with its more efficient counterpart, researchers became curious about the side effects for this artificial sweetener. The American Cancer Society article refers to two studies done to determine the potential health risks involved in consuming aspartame. The article refers to two studies one experimental and the other correlational.
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Within the experimental study, researchers used rats and gave them copious amounts of aspartame to see the effects it had on their health. According to the article, there was no link between the rats’ health and the amount of aspartame they were exposed to.
As for the correlational studies observing humans, the majority of studies have shown that there is no cancerous effect of aspartame. A study in 1970 shows a potential correlation between the two, but confounding third variables such as the diets of those studied in 1970 versus 2016, make the argument shaky at best. The article in the American Cancer Society website makes reference to two large studies that examined upwards of 500,000 adults where the same result was concluded, aspartame most likely, since nothing is definite, not causing cancer.
As a result, I strongly urge people who refuse to drink Diet Coke and consume products labeled with aspartame as an ingredient to think twice about writing these products off as unhealthy. Unlike the correlation between lung cancer and smoking as discussed in class, as of now, there is no definite link between cancer and aspartame. Therefore, being a rational person, I will continue to drink and enjoy my favorite soda without worrying about the faux health risks of aspartame.