The Center for Science in the Public Interest is asking Grammy-award-winning singer Taylor Swift to reconsider her endorsement of Diet Coke, which contains the artificial sweetener aspartame.
In a letter today, they told Ms. Swift that Diet Coke was probably less harmful than full-calorie Coca-Cola, but still a beverage to avoid. Ms. Swift endorses plenty of products that don’t promote cancer at all—and she is a genuine philanthropist, giving generously to children’s hospitals and high regarded cancer-related charities.
“Your endorsement carries great weight with your millions of young fans,” wrote CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, who praised Swift’s considerable philanthropy, including her support of several prominent cancer-related charities. “To the extent that your endorsement encourages them to begin drinking Diet Coke, or to drink more, your endorsement is likely increasing your fans’ risk of cancer. Even if the increase in risk is small, we question whether you would want to lend your name, image, and reputation to any product linked to any increased risk of cancer.”
Aspartame, a synthetic chemical combination of two amino acids and methanol, caused lymphomas, leukemias, kidney tumors, and breast cancer in two studies on rats. In a mouse study, aspartame caused liver and lung cancer. Scientists generally accept that if a chemical causes cancer in animals it likely increases the risk of cancer in humans. CSPI recommends that consumers avoid aspartame and has urged food manufacturers not to use it.
“As the public face of Diet Coke, Taylor Swift is the public face of aspartame,” Jacobson said. “She might be doing more to promote aspartame consumption than anyone on Earth.”