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November 25, 2005

Looks like it can kill you.

A statistically significant increase in the incidence of malignant tumors, lymphomas and leukemias in rats exposed to varying doses of aspartame appears to link the artificial sweetener to a high carcinogenicity rate, according to a study accepted for publication today by the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP).

Yet another thing to add to the, "read the label before you buy it" list.

Not that, as far as I know, I consume a lot of aspartame. I try to avoid a reliance on artificial sweetners. It's healthier to eat "real" sugar but keep it down to very small amounts.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:55 AM


I've got mixed feelings about this. I don't drink the stuff, usually, due to the taste and the fact that it does break down into formaldehyde in the body (this has been known pretty much since the stuff was invented, and I've got chemists and biologists in the family...) which just doesn't seem healthy.

But it's worth noting that the inventor of the cancer rat protocols, Ames, has publicly said that his original methods are not well used or well interpreted generally. They cite articles claiming good correlations between rat and human cancer results, but I have some doubts yet.

I took a quick look at the actual article: if the anti-aspartame folks want ammunition, how about this line: "No substantial
differences in mean body weight were observed between the treated and control groups,
apart from a slight decrease in females treated at 100,000 ppm." Also, the article strongly suggests much higher carcinogenicity for female rats than male rats.

The average American's daily consumption of Aspartame according to the study is under 5mg per kg of body weight: they found significant effects at 20mg/kg.b.w. but not lower. What we need, and the article does not provide, is some sense of how much aspartame really is in our food.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at November 25, 2005 11:19 PM