Sweeteners pp 311-347 | Cite as

Potential Carcinogenic Risks of Aspartame

  • Morando SoffrittiEmail author
  • Angela Guaragna
  • Marco Manservigi
Reference work entry
Part of the Reference Series in Phytochemistry book series (RSP)


Aspartame is an intense artificial sweetener with a sweet test approximately 200 times that of sucrose and used as additive in more than 6,000 products.

Aspartame was invented by GD-Searle in 1965 and submitted for pre-marketing safety evaluation in early 1980s. The studies conducted by GD-Searle to evaluate the potential carcinogenic risks of aspartame did not show any effect. Because of the great commercial diffusion of aspartame, in 1997 the Ramazzini Institute started a large experiments project on rodents to test the carcinogenic effects of aspartame in our experimental model with more sensitive characteristics, namely large number of rats and mice, observation until natural death. Overall the project included the study of 2,270 rats and 852 mice starting the treatment from prenatal life or in mature age and lasting all life.

These studies have shown that aspartame is a carcinogenic agent inducing a significant dose-related increased incidence of several types of malignant tumors and, among them, haematological neoplasias. Later this effect was confirmed by an epidemiological study conducted by a group of the Harvard University.


Aspartame Food additive Carcinogenic bioassay Rat Mice Artificial sweetener Carcinogenic effects EFSA FDA GD-SEARLE 



Admitted daily dose




Confidence interval


5-benzyl-3, 6-dioxo-2 piperazine acetic acid


European Food Safety Authority


Food Drug Administration


Glutathione reductase




International Agency for Research on Cancer


Maximum permitted level


Relative risk


United States – National Cancer Institute


United States – National Toxicology Program


World Health Organization



A special thanks to Dr. Eva Tibaldi and Dr. Erica Tommasini for their extraordinary technical support during the preparation of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morando Soffritti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Angela Guaragna
    • 2
  • Marco Manservigi
    • 3
  1. 1.Clinical Center of Cancer PreventionRamazzini InstituteBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Clinical Center of Cancer PreventionBolognaItaly
  3. 3.Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research CenterBolognaItaly

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