Does everything from the mundane to the weird cause cancer? Let’s explore five bizarre claims about everyday stuff and why you should or shouldn’t care.
A link between low calorie artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, and cancer first arose in the 1970s when scientists discovered high doses of the artificial sweeteners cyclamate and saccharin were associated with bladder cancer in lab rats.
In 2000, the U.S. National Toxicology Program removed saccharin from its report on cancer-causing substances after decades of studies found the biological mechanisms that caused saccharin to increase bladder cancer in rats “was not relevant to humans.”
The consumer health warning was removed from sweetener packages in the United States because those tests produced no consistent evidence that saccharin is associated with bladder cancer incidence in people.
Cyclamate is currently used in foods and beverages in more than 100 countries worldwide, including Canada, Australia and Europe but is banned in the United States.
In recent years, health questions about aspartame also surfaced. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener distributed since 1981 under several trade names, including NutraSweet® and Equal®.
In 1996 a report suggested that aspartame might be associated with an increase in brain cancers in the United States. In 2005, a separate study found that aspartame might be linked to an increase in leukemias and lymphomas in lab rats fed very high doses of the sugar substitute -- equivalent to drinking 8 to 2,083 cans of diet soda daily.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute examined human data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study of more than a half a million retirees in 2006.