Do artificial sweeteners cause cancer?

  • There is no convincing evidence that artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, cause cancer.
  • Artificial sweeteners are used in some food and drink instead of sugar.
  • Your overall diet (what you eat day-to-day) is more important for reducing your cancer risk than any individual ingredient or food.

There are lots of artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, saccharin, sorbitol and xylitol. They are chemical substances that taste sweet.   

Artificial sweeteners are used in lots of different products instead of sugar. These include fizzy drinks and desserts, as well as things like chewing gum and toothpaste. 


Do aspartame and other artificial sweeteners cause cancer?

There is no convincing evidence that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame cause cancer.

You might have seen stories about artificial sweeteners and cancer on social media or the news. But studies in people do not show a link between aspartame and cancer. 

Ingredients in food and drink in the UK are tightly regulated. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for aspartame. It equals around 14 cans of diet fizzy drink for a person who weighs around 70kg. This is more cans than most people would have in one day. 

Find out more about the research on aspartame and cancer in our news article.


Does diet soda or diet pop cause cancer?

No, artificial sweeteners in diet or zero-sugar fizzy drinks won't increase your risk of cancer.

Some drink companies use artificial sweeteners in place of sugar. This is because artificial sweeteners often have less calories than sugar, or no calories.  

For a healthy balanced diet, make water your first choice. Try adding fresh lemon to it for flavour!  

There are many cancer myths, including artificial sweeteners, that haven’t been proven to cause cancer. However, there are proven causes of cancer, and things you can do to reduce your risk. 


Boyle P, Koechlin A, Autier P. Sweetened carbonated beverage consumption and cancer risk: meta analysis and review. European journal of cancer prevention : the official journal of the European Cancer Prevention Organisation (ECP). 2014;23:481-490.

 (EFSA) EFSA. Scientific Opinion on the safety of advantame for the proposed uses as a food additive. EFSA Journal. 2013;11.

NHS. The truth about sweeteners  [updated 28 February 2019. Available from:]


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