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Health Team

Researcher: Artificial Sweetener Linked to Cancer

Posted April 27, 2007 3:03 p.m. EDT
Updated April 27, 2007 6:03 p.m. EDT

Aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in nearly 6,000 products, including diet sodas, ice cream and certain medicines, has been the source of controversy in recent months.

The Food and Drug Administration said aspartame is safe, but one critic disagrees with that assessment.

"The exposure to aspartame should be reduced as much as possible," said Dr. Morando Soffritti, of the European Ramazinni Foundation.

Soffritti's years of research on rats links aspartame to a higher risk of certain cancers.

"It increases incidence of lymphomas and leukemia's," Soffritti said.

Scientists have debated the safety of artificial sweeteners for a long time. Even, saccharin has been challenged. Soffritti has questioned the safety of aspartame before in a 2005 study that forced the government to take a closer look.

Last week, the FDA released a statement on Soffritti's research, saying there were "significant shortcomings" in the data made available and the agency "finds no reason to alter its previous conclusion that aspartame is safe."

Soffritti has released the results of another study. In the study, rats were exposed to aspartame their entire lives, even in the womb like most human children. He said in the study, he found a higher rate of cancer in the rats.