Will Nutrasweet Be Banned For Causing Cancer?

The Huffington Post is reporting that new FDA chief Dr. Margaret Hamburg is expected to ban the use of aspartame, the substance in Nutrasweet. Who expects the ban, columnist Samuel S. Epstein neglects to say.

But why? That is well covered:

In January 1976, then Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Schmidt testified before Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) that Hazleton Laboratories, under contract to Searle, had been charged with falsifying toxicological data on the sweetener.

The FDA subsequently convened a Public Board of Inquiry to review concerns on aspartame’s carcinogenic effects in experimental animals. In 1980, the Board concluded that aspartame could “contribute to the development brain tumors.” The FDA then recommended that, pending confirmation of these findings, this sweetener should no longer be used.

In 2006, based on highly sensitive and life long feeding tests in groups of about 200 rats and at doses less than usual human dietary levels, the prestigious Italian Ramazzini Foundation confirmed that aspartame is unequivocally carcinogenic. A high incidence of cancers was induced in multiple organs, including lymph glands, brain and kidney.

True, Nutrasweet conspiracy theories have grown up with the Internet. And we’ll grant that there’s no shortage of bad science over at HuffPo. But Dr. Epstein sounds like the real deal.

At any rate, as someone who has long found that Nutrasweet gives me headaches, I’m a believer. So down with Diet Coke! (Tab is better anyway.)

An Overdue Ban on a Dangerous Sweetener [Huffington Post]
(Thanks, Shaula Evans!)
[Photo: niallkennedy]

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