The coupling current loss in rectangular superconducting cables is strictly dependent on their aspect ratio, which has an impact on the area linked by the field variation and consequently on the currents induced between strands. The relation between the ac loss and aspect ratio is studied with reference to the testing of three short cable in conduit conductor (CICC) samples at the SULTAN test facility. The first conductor is a 25 kA NbTi cable for the JT60-SA tokamak; the second is a 20 kA Nb3Sn cable for the HZB hybrid magnet. The last CICC is a 68 kA Nb3Sn cable with layout similar to that of the ITER toroidal field (TF) conductor (called the 'European toroidal field (EUTF) alternate'). All the samples are assembled with two conductor sections differing only in their orientation with respect to the external variable field. In the first and third samples, the cable of one leg is rotated by 90 degrees, while in the HZB sample it is rotated by 45 degrees with respect to the other leg. The ac loss is measured at the SULTAN test facility using a gas flow calorimetric method. A sample length of 39 cm is exposed to a sinusoidal field with an amplitude of +/- 0.3 or +/- 0.2 T (depending on the superconductor) and frequency variable in the range 0.1-0.8 Hz. A background field of 2 T perpendicular both to the sinusoidal field and to the sample axis is also applied. The ac loss is assessed by measuring the variation of the He enthalpy, assuming the metal enthalpy to be negligible. The loss curve for both legs is discussed in terms of the respective aspect ratios and the results, including data from former test campaigns, are compared with the aim of finding an analytical relation between the loss and the conductor dimensions.