The cancer research agency of the World Health Organization, or WHO, recently released a report categorizing the artificial sweetener aspartame used in diet sodas and other food products as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” But is it essential to give up your diet drink habit? 

Not necessarily, according to many experts, including two Florida State University nutritional experts. 

The news about aspartame is not something most people need to worry about, say Lisa Trone, director of the Dietetics Internship Program and Michael J. Ormsbee, a professor director of the institute of Sports Sciences and Medicine at the University.

Being on the WHO’s list of possible carcinogens — a list that also includes engine exhaust, gasoline fumes, pickled vegetables and your smartphone — does not mean aspartame causes cancer. There is limited evidence suggesting a possible link, Ormsbee said. 

“There are two recent aspartame and low-calorie sweetener studies that came out in the last year that actually showed no association at all with cancer,” Prof. Ormsbee said. “The risk just isn’t there for humans.” 

You’d have to drink a lot of diet soft drinks for aspartame to be a concern, both researchers said. 

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight is the maximum amount of aspartame considered safe to consume each day. For an average adult of 80 kg weight, this would be about 4,000 milligrams. The WHO guideline itself is still, as before, 40mg/Kg body weight a day. A 330ml can of Diet Coke has about 200 to 300 milligrams of aspartame, so you’d need to consume roughly 20 cans of Diet Coke a day for aspartame to quality for inclusion on the WHO list of ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ list.

Source: Based on report in Newswise