Latest Results, European Ramazzini Foundation,
Aspartame "Multipotential Carcinogen"! (KIdney (renal pelvis
& ureter), peripheral nerves, in particular Cranial Nerves, malignant
brain tumors, lymphoma and leukemia)
Regarding European Ramazzini Foundation
Aspartame Manufacturers Tell A Whopper:
Sweetener manufacturer disputes validity
of new health research
· Study links aspartame with cancers
· Ingredient used in more than 6,000 products Felicity Lawrence
Friday September 30, 2005
Aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in more than 6,000 food and
drink products around the world, is the subject of renewed controversy
this week after the results of the latest research into whether it can
Scientists at the independent European
Ramazzini Foundation for cancer research in Bologna presented new results
from its long-term, large-scale study of the effect of aspartame on
1,800 rats, at its international conference on cancer and environmental
sciences in Italy last week.
The research centre said analysis of
its latest results showed aspartame caused cancer of the kidney, and
of the peripheral nerves, mainly in the head. Earlier data from the
same study published in July linked aspartame to an increased risk of
leukaemias and lymphomas in female lab rats "at doses very close
to the acceptable daily intake for humans".
Manufacturers of the sweetener have challenged
the validity of the study. They say the research is "in total conflict
with hundreds of credible studies that have been thoroughly reviewed
by the regulatory authorities around the world" and that "the
allegations are inconsistent with human epidemiological data".
They question the record of the institute and say it is "criminal"
for it to present its data publicly before it had made it all available
to the regulatory authorities and before it had been fully reviewed.
Aspartame is roughly 200 times sweeter
than sugar. It is regularly consumed by more than 350 million people
worldwide, and is estimated to account for 62% of the market in sweetening
agents. It is commonly found in the UK in diet colas and other low-calorie
drinks, juices, sweets, chewing gum, cereals, yoghurts, other desserts,
snack foods such as crisps, medicines and vitamin supplements, including
those for children.
The European Food Safety Authority is
not at present recommending any change in consumers' diets. "Up
to now aspartame has been considered safe, based on the studies available,"
it said. It would review the research "as a matter of high priority,
in the context of previous extensive safety data available on aspartame".
Aspartame has been authorised for use
in foods for a long time but has a "controversial history",
according to EFSA. Because it is widely consumed, particularly by young
children and pregnant women, the European Ramazzini Foundation decided
to carry out an unusually large study of feeding aspartame to laboratory
rats, according to its director, Dr Morando Soffritti.
The rats were studied for nearly three
years, until the end of their natural lifespan; most studies last about
two years. Six different dose levels were tested against a control group
not given aspartame. The National Toxicology Programme of the US National
Institutes of Health convened a pathology working group to provide a
second opinion on the interpretation of some of the cancerous lesions
observed by the Ramazzini researchers, and helped with the statistical
evaluation of data.
The Italian scientists concluded that
aspartame is a "multipotential carcinogen", causing a dose-related
increase in leukaemias and lymphomas in female rats, and a dose-related
increase in incidence of cancer and its precursors in the kidney (renal
pelvis and ureter) as well as tumours in the peripheral nerves, in particular
in cranial nerves.
Aspartame is metabolised into aspartic
acid, phenylalanine and methanol. Methanol is in turn metabolised to
formaldehyde. Previous large-scale experiments by the Ramazzini Foundation
have linked both methanol and formaldehyde to a significant increase
of leukaemias and lymphomas, the researchers say. However, they point
out that the other sorts of cancer they observed in their aspartame
study did not show up in studies on methanol and formaldehyde, suggesting
an urgent need to study whether aspartic acid or phenylalanine were
also potential carcinogens.
The researchers also found that while
rats fed aspartame ate less food, there was no difference in weight
between treated and untreated animals. The first results have been published
in the foundation's journal, the European Journal of Oncology, and have
been peer-reviewed by seven international experts, according to the
journal's editorial board. The second results have not yet been peer-reviewed.
The foundation is now planning to enlarge
its study to embryonic rats and mice - work that will take several years
to complete. Meanwhile, one of the authors of the study, Fiorella Belpoggi
said: "In our opinion, the results of our first experiment on aspartame
call for urgent reconsideration of the rules governing its use as an
One of the largest manufacturers of aspartame,
Ajinomoto, the Japanese multinational which also makes monosodium glutamate,
has challenged the research. Its senior scientists said they did not
agree with the interpretation of results, nor did they believe that
the study's protocols met internationally approved standards. They said
the results were not statistically significant, that numerous studies
had shown aspartame was safe, and that regulatory bodies around the
world had concluded it was safe.
"Aspartame has a record of 25 years
of safe use. Aspartame is made from amino acids and is broken down into
common dietary components. Aspartame itself therefore brings nothing
new to the diet," a spokesman said. "Raising ill-founded fears
about an ingredient which helps people to control calorie intake is
The International Sweeteners Association
said last week: "Aspartame is one of the most tested food ingredients
ever and all evaluations undertaken by independent risk assessors at
international, European, and national level have concluded that aspartame
is a safe foodstuff ... Aspartame can make a useful contribution to
weight control. With billions of man-years of safe use, there is no
indication of an association between aspartame and cancer in humans."
Aspartame was approved for use by the
US Food and Drug Administration in 1981, and for use in soft drinks
a couple of years later. The FDA looked at four previous studies conducted
for the industry on whether aspartame causes cancer.
One had reported an increase in brain
tumours in rats, although the FDA ruled that parts of the study were
flawed. Three others concluded it was not carcinogenic. When the FDA
reviewed all the data, it concluded that there was no evidence of a
carcinogenic effect on the brains of animals. A review of all the data
on aspartame was carried out in 2002 by the European commission's scientific
committee on food. It concluded that it was safe and reconfirmed the
previously established acceptable daily intake of the additive.
Speaking on behalf of Ajinomoto, Ewan
Currie, of the Aspartame Information Service, said: "We are confident
that when it has been scrutinised by third parties, aspartame will be
Peripheral nerves: Parts of motor and sensory nerves, branch from the
brain and spinal cord Leukaemias and lymphomas: Malignant diseases of
the blood and lymphatic system. Lymphomas are tumours arising from lymphoid
Acceptable daily intake: The amount of
an additive the regulatory authorities calculate a person may eat/drink
each day without causing any known harm to health. The UK ADI for aspartame
is 0-40mg per kg of body weight
Epidemiological data: The pattern of
disease in the population as a whole Guardian Unlimited © Guardian
Newspapers Limited 2005
More information on aspartame: www.wnho.net
Dr. Betty Martini, Founder, Mission Possible
Intl, 9270 River Club Parkway, Duluth, Georgia 30097 770 242-2599
Aspartame Information List. www.wnho.net
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