GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– Aspartame is one of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners in the world.

This past summer of 2023, the World Health Organization declared it may cause cancer.

We spoke with a dietician about the sweetener, in this week’s “Ask the Expert”.

Since gaining FDA approval in the mid-70s, aspartame, a low-calorie sugar substitute, has exploded in popularity.

“Apartame is a non caloric sweetener. It is a dye peptide, meaning it has two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. It triggers a sweetness, you know, sensation on your tongue.”

Joanna Smyers, Registered Dietician, Bon Secours St. Francis

This past July 2023, the World Health Organization made an alarming statement about the artificial sweetener.

Joanna Smyers, a registered dietician, says “The World Health Organization came out with a paper recently saying that it could be potentially carcinogenic. But, that more science is needed.”

Smyers says studies of rats treated with aspartame have shown links to potentially carcinogenic compounds.

“But those are not conclusive. And they are not human trials, either. So, there is no direct comparison between between rat and human studies. It’s more of a correlation… So those potentially carcinogenic studies are, are kind of faulty, or not, not the best way to draw conclusions in a human population,” Smyers said.

Smyers says you don’t necessarily need to rid your shelves of aspartame.

She says, “It has been shown over and over to be safe as an artificial sweetener.”

She says aspartame is a safer sweetener option than table sugar, for certain groups.

“People with diabetes or PCOS or insulin resistance, or individuals who are looking for weight loss or weight maintenance, this is a very good option for reducing calories from added sugars,” Smyers said.

Smyers says people with the genetic disorder called “PKU” should avoid using aspartame. Instead, they should choose a different sweetener like stevia, Splenda, or monk fruit.

To submit a health topic for our ‘Ask the Expert’ series, click here.