UTMC Podcast Breaks Downs Aspartame as Possible Carcinogen

September 12, 2023 | News, UToday, Alumni, UTMC
By Tessa Lackey

Aspartame, a sugar alcohol commonly found in diet pop, was recently listed to be a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization. In the latest episode of Prescribed Listening by the University of Toledo Medical Center, host Tessa Lackey discusses with Dr. Srini Hejeebu from UTMC Internal Medicine what the World Health Organization’s listing means, and why aspartame and other sugar alcohols should be considered as part of an overall diet.

Hejeebu discusses how more studies are required, but that consuming aspartame and other sugar alcohols in moderation is a good way to go.

“If we take an excess of any one particular item, because we don’t know the mechanism of these chemicals that affects our body, there may be adverse effects that we don’t know yet,” he says. “There are some things that these artificial sweeteners have shown to cause, but again, nothing is definitive, but there are some changes in the body that are worrisome.”

Aspartame is mostly found in diet pop, which, Hejeebu says, is especially concerning for diabetics.

“I actually recommend not to use diet sodas for my diabetic patients,” he says. “I would prefer they drink regular soda if they’re going to drink a soda, but I would prefer that they mainly use water and other unsweetened beverages.”

Hejeebu goes on to say that drinking a diet soda occasionally is fine, but that he generally recommends staying away from diet drinks and soda.

The episode also discusses how these sugars may have the unintentional effects of causing weight gain, craving more sweets and carbohydrates and can also be a trigger for migraine sufferers.

“You can have migraine headaches from some of these sweeteners,” he says. “We see this when people tend to go off sodas or diet sodas, try to wean themselves off; initially, they get a lot of headaches. It’s that artificial sweetener that may be the potential cause of it.”

To review this episode and the podcast’s entire library of episodes, go to the UTMC Prescribed Listening website.

Subscribe to UTMC’s Prescribed Listening podcast for the latest episodes on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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