The Most Compelling Evidence Linking Aspartame to Cancer
As Tom Philpott pointed out, aspartame studies have been extremely biased, depending on the organization providing the funding. Studies funded by the sweetener industry tend to conclude aspartame is safe, whereas studies funded independently show all manner of adverse health effects.
In the early 2000s, Italian cancer researcher Dr. Morando Soffritti, head of the European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences, conducted aspartame safety studies on rats in an effort to find some answers. His studies were different from earlier ones in that he studied a much larger population of rats (1,900 of the little rodents) and observed them over the course of their entire natural lifetimes (about 3 years).
A very important fact to consider here is that the Ramazzini foundation is a well respected, independent, non-profit institution that has been dedicated to cancer prevention for more than 35 years.
Dr. Soffritti believed the studies done by Searle in the 1970s involved insufficient numbers of rats, and did not allow them to live long enough to develop cancer. The rats in the Searle studies were euthanized after two years, arguably before many cancers would have developed.
“Since 80 percent of cancer is diagnosed in humans over the age of 55, it is of paramount importance to observe how an agent affects laboratory animals in the last third of their lives.”
What did he find? The first study found, after being fed the “human equivalent” of four to five bottles of diet soda per day, the rats developed high rates of lymphomas, leukemias and other cancers. At the highest dose, 25 percent of the female rats developed lymphomas and leukemias, compared with just 8.7 percent of the control group. Dr. Soffritti attributed the cancer to the methanol produced as a byproduct of aspartame metabolism. As with rats, when your body breaks down methanol, the result is formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.
The researchers determined aspartame’s carcinogenic effect was observed at levels as low as 400 parts per million (ppm), concluding the following:
“The results of this mega-experiment indicate that APM [aspartame] is a multipotential carcinogenic agent, even at a daily dose of 20 mg/kg body weight, much less than the current acceptable daily intake. On the basis of these results, a reevaluation of the present guidelines on the use and consumption of APM is urgent and cannot be delayed.”
Not surprisingly, the results drew massive criticism from the industry and vociferous attempts to discredit the Ramazzini Foundation and its research.
But the foundation refused to back down.
In 2007, they published a follow-up study—again finding cancer linked with aspartame use. But this time, their findings included a troubling discovery that when exposure begins in the womb, aspartame’s carcinogenic effect is amplified. Sadly, no American regulatory agency has acted on Dr. Soffritti’s findings, and the FDA stubbornly clings to its position that aspartame is safe.
Watering the Seeds of Deception
The Obama administration has made sure Monsanto will enjoy even more control over what you eat. The appointment of Tom Vilsack to Secretary of Agriculture was a foreshadowing of things to come. As former Iowa Governor, Vilsack was a staunch advocate for Monsanto, genetic engineering, and factory farming. And many other USDA officials have similar ties.
After a five-year battle with the industry, the USDA just gave its stamp of approval for genetically engineered alfalfa and sugar beets. Farmers will be allowed to plant GMO alfalfa and beet seeds anywhere—even abutting organic farms.
This decision poses dire possibilities for our entire food supply as these GM seeds drift hither and to neighboring farms, invited or not. Sugar beets are wind-pollinated crops whose pollen can be carried up to six miles, depending on the winds. Is this really what Michelle Obama wants in her organic White House garden? Beets and alfalfa are one thing—but what do GMOs have to do with aspartame? As it turns out, quite a lot.