Rat Study Links Aspartame to Cancer
Lymphoma, Leukemia in Rats Fed Sweetener; Industry Group Says Aspartame Is Safe
WebMD News Archive
But Jacobson urges consumers not to panic.
"The risk to an individual is quite small," he says. "So people
shouldn't fear that if they have one diet soda a day they are going to develop
cancer. And I must say, the one qualm I have about the study is they found an
increased risk of cancer at such a low level of exposure. If aspartame were
that potent a carcinogen, I wonder if we wouldn't be seeing a real epidemic of
Soffritti has presented his findings to the European Food Safety Authority.
In its 2002 review of aspartame safety, the EFSA found no cause for alarm. It
promises that the new data will get a "high priority" evaluation.
"EFSA does not consider it appropriate to suggest any change in
consumers' diets relative to aspartame on the basis of the information it
currently has," the EFSA announced on July 14.
Low-Calorie Industry: No Cause for Alarm
The new findings fly in the face of all previous studies of aspartame
safety, says the Calorie Control Council, an international association
representing the low-calorie and reduced-fat food and beverage industry.
The Soffritti study findings "are not consistent with the extensive
scientific research and regulatory reviews done on aspartame," the CCC says
in a statement. "Aspartame has been used by hundreds of millions of
consumers around the world for over 20 years. With billions of man-years of
safe use, there is no indication of an association between aspartame and cancer
The CCC points to four long-term studies on aspartame that failed to find
any relationship between aspartame and any form of cancer.
It's true that reports linking brain and breast cancer to aspartame had
little merit, says blood-cancer specialist Martin R. Weihrauch, MD, of the
University of Cologne, Germany. Last year, Weihrauch reported on his analysis
of all published studies on artificial sweeteners in the Annals of
"The entire stuff about brain tumors and breast cancer was really
nonsense, Weihrauch tells WebMD.
So what does he think of the new study linking aspartame to leukemia and