Review of studies finds no link between sweetener, cancer

by Staff
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A review of scientific literature found no evidence to support an association between the high-intensity sweetener aspartame and cancer, which conflicts with results from two other studies. The review’s results, titled "Aspartame: a Safety Evaluation Based on Current Use Levels, Regulations, and Toxicological and Epidemiological Studies" appeared in the September issue of Critical Reviews in Toxicology (Volume 37, Issue 8).

According to the review’s abstract, "Critical review of all carcinogenicity studies conducted on aspartame found no credible evidence that aspartame is carcinogenic. The data from the extensive investigations into the possibility of neurotoxic effects of aspartame, in general, do not support the hypothesis that aspartame in the human diet will affect nervous system function, learning or behavior.

"Epidemiological studies on aspartame include several case-control studies and one well-conducted prospective epidemiological study with a large cohort, in which the consumption of aspartame was measured. These studies provide no evidence to support an association between aspartame and cancer in any tissue."

A panel of eight experts in such areas as toxicology, epidemiology, metabolism and pathology examined more than 500 studies, according to the Atlanta-based Calorie Control Council.

"The findings of the review are not surprising given that aspartame brings nothing new to the diet, as aspartame is made up of amino acids and a small amount of methanol, all of which are found naturally in other foods," said Beth Hubrich, a dietitian with the Council, an international non-profit association that represents the low-calorie and reduced-fat food and beverage industry.

The Ramazzini Foundation, a non-profit foundation based in Italy, performed two studies involving rats and said results show aspartame has potential carcinogenicity at a dose level close to the acceptable daily intake for humans.

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