Aspartame increases cancer risk

The news ain’t sweet. New research on aspartame links the artificial sweetener to increased rates of cancer when consumed at levels far below the present acceptable daily intake level.
“Our study has shown that aspartame is a multipotential carcinogenic compound whose carcinogenic effects are also evident at a daily dose of 20 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, notably less than the current acceptable daily intake for humans,“ write the authors of a report published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Rats in the study showed extensive evidence of malignant cancers including lymphomas, leukemias, and tumors in multiple organ sites. The authors speculate the increase in lymphomas and leukemias may be related to a metabolite in aspartame, methanol, which is metabolized in both rats and humans to formaldehyde.

Aspartame was first approved by the US FDA in 1974. Now, it’s an ingredient in over 6,000 products, including foods, beverages, chewable vitamins and toothpaste. It’s estimated that over 200 million people regularly consume aspartame.

The study differed from past studies in examining a far greater number of animals (1800) and continuing the study until the death of the last animal at 159 weeks ( 3 years). Earlier studies ended at about two years, which represents two thirds of a rat’s normal lifespan. In humans, approximately 80% of cancers are diagnosed in the last third of life, after age 55. The study also examined each animal at death for microscopic changes in all organs and tissues, to allow a comprehensive assessment of aspartame’s carcinogenic potential.

The study was carried out by the European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences in Italy and was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, March 2006.