Expert Panel: Aspartame Sweetener Safe
No Cancer, Seizure, Obesity, Birth Defect Risk Seen in Aspartame Studies
WebMD News Archive
Aspartame Widely Used
Aspartame is found in the low-calorie sweetener Equal and in many other
sugar-free products under the brand name NutraSweet. It is the second
best-selling nonsugar sweetener in the world.
Just last June, an Italian research group led by Morando Soffritti, MD,
issued a warning that
aspartame causes cancer in rats. As it did when the Soffritti group
issued its first report, the CSPI petitioned the FDA to investigate
aspartame. The FDA has declined to act.
Now the Burdock panel has reviewed every existing animal and human study of
aspartame -- including a detailed analysis of the Italian group's findings. It
finds many flaws in the Soffritti group's work.
"The [Soffritti] study had numerous methodological and interpretation
errors," Magnuson said. "It provided no credible evidence that
aspartame is carcinogenic."
Jacobson admits the study had flaws but says it raised nagging questions the
panel dismissed, but did not answer.
Over the years, there have been suggestions that aspartame might cause brain
tumors, brain damage, birth defects, headaches, and impaired cognitive
function. The panel found no convincing evidence linking aspartame to these or
other human health issues.
"The panel concludes aspartame is a well-characterized, high-intensity
sweetener, thoroughly studied, with a long history of safe use in the food
supply," Magnuson said. "We found no effect on cancer or neuronal
function. Overall, we thought aspartame could reduce the caloric content of a
wide variety of foods."
The panel's 100-page report appears in the September issue of Critical
Reviews in Toxicology.