Does aspertame (artificial sweetener) cause cancer?

October 18, 2007

A second study conducted by the European Ramazzini Foundation (ERF) confirms the carcinogenicity of aspartame. It’s findings were made public in April 2007.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener (NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful) consumed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. It is used in over 9,000 products including soft drinks, chewing gum, candy, desserts, yogurt as well as in pharmaceuticals, in particular, syrups and antibiotics for children. In 2005, the European Ramazzini Foundation published important experimental data demonstrating the carcinogenicity of aspartame. These data demonstrated for the first time that aspartame is a carcinogenic agent, inducing various types of malignant tumors in rats, even at dose levels currently considered acceptable for humans.

As soon as carcinogenic effects were perceived during this first study, the ERF began a second long term experiment, administering aspartame at low doses in feed to rats beginning during fetal life.

The report concludes: The results of this study, our second long-term carcinogenicity bioassay on APM, not only confirm but also reinforce our first experimental demonstration (Belpoggi et al. 2006; Soffritti et al. 2005, 2006) of APM’s multipotental carcinogenicity at a dose level close to the human ADI. Furthermore, the study demonstrates that when life-span exposure to APM begins during fetal life, its carcinogenic effects are increased.

On the basis of the present findings, we believe that a review of the current regulations governing the use of aspartame cannot be delayed. This review is particularly urgent with regard to aspartame-containing beverages, which are heavily consumed by children.

Full report at:
http://www.ehponline.org/members/2007/10271/10271.html

However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stands firm on its position that aspertame is safe. The regulatory agency said it does not support the conclusion of the Italy-based European Ramazzini Foundation (ERF) study that aspartame is a carcinogen.

The announcement came after an FDA review of ERF data. However, the agency said it could not conduct a complete and definitive review of the study because ERF did not provide the full study data.
The data it was able to review did not support the ERF conclusions, said FDA.

On learning of the study results, FDA requested the study data from Ramazzini so as to evaluate the findings. On February 28, 2006, the agency received a portion of the data requested. In June 2006, FDA asked ERF to provide the remainder of the study data and also offered to review pathology slides from the study.

FDA said ERF did not submit additional data to the agency and did not agree to FDA’s review of the pathology slides.

“Based on the available data (…) we have identified significant shortcomings in the design, conduct, reporting, and interpretation of this study. FDA finds that the reliability and interpretation of the study outcome is compromised by these shortcomings and uncontrolled variables, such as the presence of infection in the test animals,” it said.

“Based on our review, pathological changes were incidental and appeared spontaneously in the study animals, and none of the histopathological changes reported appear to be related to treatment with aspartame.”

FDA approved aspartame for consumption in 1981.

Current estimation sets the nation’s total aspartame consumption at 8,040 tons per year. FDA’s Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of aspartame is 50 mg per kilogram of body weight or about 3,750 mg (21 cans of diet soda) for an adult weighing 75 kilograms (165 lb). ADI is the amount of substance (e.g., food additive) like aspartame that can be consumed daily over a lifetime without appreciable health risk to a person on the basis of all the known facts at the time of the evaluation.
On average a person consumes at least 200mg per day. There are 180 mg of aspartame in one 12 ounce can of diet soda.

Since its discovery in 1965 aspartame has be the source of controversy within the scientific community and industry over whether it causes health problems. Some studies have indicated a health risk, some have indicated that it does not cause harm to humans. Industry has consistently denied that the artificial sweetener poses a health risk, claiming that the numerous scientific studies were faulty.

They also point to four previous long term studies sponsored by G.D. Searle, a chemical company that held the patent to aspartame, which were the basis for regulatory acceptance worldwide. Searle was later bought by Monsanto and became NutraSweet Co.

One Response to “Does aspertame (artificial sweetener) cause cancer?”

  1. ben dover Says:

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