Cancer fears over sweetener [aspartame] in food, Paul Matthews,
Daily Mail, 21 reader comments: Murray 2005.12.15

Cancer fears over sweetener in food
by PAUL MATTHEWS, Daily Mail 07:32am 15th December 2005

Reader comments (21)

Cancer fears over supermarket products:
An artificial sweetener found in 6,000 types of food,
drink and medicines should be banned, an MP urged last night.

Politicians were warned of 'compelling and reliable' evidence
that aspartame can cause cancer.

The controversial additive is found in a huge number of popular
products such as cola, cereal and chocolate.

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Roger Williams, a member of the parliamentary select committee
on food and the environment and Liberal Democrat MP,
said any items containing aspartame should be withdrawn from sale.

His comments came after research published
by the European Ramazzini Foundation in Italy over the summer
linked aspartame to cancer in rats.

Leading scientists last night joined Mr Williams in calling for products
containing it to be taken off the shelves.

"There is strong scientific evidence that the components of aspartame
and their metabolites can cause very serious toxic effects on humans,"
Mr Williams said.

Aspartame is also found in chewing gum, yoghurt, and coffee sweetener.
It is consumed on average every day by one in 15 people
around the world.

Mr Williams told the Commons the additive was potentially
'far more dangerous' than Sudan 1,
the banned food dye linked to cancer
and found in some products in Britain earlier this year.
He claimed aspartame was found in ten times more products.

A debate on its safety had been repressed since the early 1980s
with the help of the sweetener industry's legal teams, he claimed.

In 1996 a review of aspartame research showed
every industry funded study had found the additive safe.

However 92 per cent of independent studies
identified some problems with its safety.

Mr Williams also told how in 1977 Donald Rumsfeld,
the U.S. defence secretary and former head of Searle,
the company that discovered the sweetener,
publicly stated he would "call in his markers"
to win a licence for the product.

"The history of aspartame's approval is littered with examples
showing that if key decision makers found against aspartame's safety,
they were discredited or replaced with industry sympathisers,
who were recompensed with lucrative jobs," Mr Williams added.

Responding for the Government, Public Health Minister Caroline Flint
said an independent review of aspartame had been conducted in 2001.
She said the Food Standards Agency advice
remained that aspartame is safe for use in food.

"I am advised that aspartame does not cause cancer," she said.
But Erik Millstone, professor of science policy
at the University of Sussex, remained unconvinced.
"There are sufficient grounds for banning aspartame.
There are serious problems about how it was approved," he said.

The Italian research, which was published in July,
showed disturbing results. The European Ramazzini Foundation
study found the incidence of cancer in female rats rose
in direct relation to the dose of the sweetener they were given.

"In our experimental conditions, it has been demonstrated,
for the first time, that aspartame causes a dose-related
statistically significant increase in lymphomas and leukaemias
in females at levels very near those to which humans can be exposed,"
their report said.

The scientists suggested the cancer could be triggered by chemicals
created by aspartame as it is broken down in the body.

Thousands of food products were withdrawn this year in a recall
costing an estimated ??????100 million because of contamination
with banned food dye Sudan 1, which has been linked to cancer.

In 2002, scientists identified a cancer-causing chemical
in a huge range of processed foods.

British experts found 'significant levels' of acrylamide
in staples such as potatoes, crisps, crispbreads and breakfast cereals
eaten by millions every day.

Last year scientists also questioned the safety
of Scottish farmed salmon. They claimed it should be eaten
no more than three times a year after discovering that the
feed used in the fish farms was linked to cancer and birth defects.

See the European Ramazzini Foundation
study on Aspartame in PDF here.
First Experimental Demonstration of the Multipotential
Carcinogenic Effects of Aspartame
Administered in the Feed to Sprague-Dawley Rats
Morando Soffritti, Fiorella Belpoggi, Davide Degli Esposti,
Luca Lambertini, Eva Tibaldi, and Anna Rigano

This EHP-in-Press article has been peer-reviewed, revised,
and accepted for publication. The EHP-in-Press articles
are completely citable using the assigned DOI code for the article.
This document will be replaced with the copyedited and formatted
version as soon as it is available. Through the DOI number
used in the citation, you will be able to access this document
at each stage of the publication process.
Environ Health Perspect doi:10.1289/ehp.8711
available via [Online 10 November 2005]

The full version of this article is available for free in PDF format. 35 pages

Add your comment | View all Reader comments (21)
21 people have commented on this story so far.
Tell us what you think below!

Here's a sample of the latest comments published.
You can click view all to read all comments that readers have sent in.

The content of the article has been common knowledge
on the internet for at least two years.
The FDA chicanery was spelt out loud and clear.

If the FSA have ill informed the British Health Minister
then they belong in the same category as the FDA who
are just mouth pieces for big business with their tiresome bleatings ..
'There is no scientific evidence'...
The numerology that is graced with the name of statistical analysis
is not working... perhaps we need to go back to reading entrails.

- Ivor Hughes, Auckland, New Zealand

I have just checked, and my mints, orange squash and chewing gum
all contain this,
and these are just the products I have with me in the office.

- Lana Gould, London, England

About time someone's finally publicised the dangers of aspartame.
A friend told me 10-12 years ago that Which Magazine
had published information about the sweetener,
which was known to cause hyperactivity in children.
I informed the BBC Watchdog programme on two occasions
of this but they did not get back to me.
At the time my son was young and a 'live wire'
so it was a major issue for me,
and I started reading ingredients on food products in supermarkets.
The main products I found that used aspartame
were low sugar drinks (and other products).
However, this was not the case for long.
I then discovered that all drinks,
whether low sugar or not were using the sweetener.
A major culprit was Robinsons,
who put aspartame in all squashes except for their High Juice.
I understood it has been used widely as it is a cheap product.
Hooray(in a very sick and twisted way)
that it has also been found to have other dangers
and will finally be taken off our shelves for good!

- Kim Collin, Brighton, Sussex

Here we go again, so it has caused cancer in rats.
What were the levels necessary to cause this.
Just in case the MP is not aware of it rats are a lot smaller than humans.
Let's hope that the FSA sticks to their guns,
but I suspect like they always do they will over react
and suddenly yet again millions upon millions of pounds worth of food
will unnecessarily be lost.
The food die scare cost retailers millions when the risk failed
to get anywhere near the Risk Factors that scientist should identify.
Let's have the relative risk identified for this sweetener.

- Robert Feal-Martinez, Swindon, UK

It used to be said that you will consume 'a peck of muck' in a lifetime.
So how much aspartame do I need to consume before I am at risk?
How many cans of pop do I have to consume
before I will suffer any ill effects?

- Ely, Barnsley, UK

I banned aspartame from my diet completely several years ago
having read plenty of published information on its dangers.
I have tried to persuade anyone who will listen not to eat it also.
It's in everything you can imagine.
Try buying a soft drink without it!
I would rather have a small amount of natural sugar than touch the stuff.
Children are especially at risk because of all the junk food they eat.
We need a completely new paradigm on our attitudes to food;
we need to stop buying manufactured poison
and start eating natural, un-processed, fresh food.
We also need to learn to cook real food again!
Food manufacturers are poisoning us whilst making fat profits.

- Caroline Johnston, Gosport, UK

What a surprise!
This poison is found in many items aimed at children --
particularly the "toothkind" varieties.
I have always avoided anything containing this
or any other artificial sweetener or chemical wherever possible
as they are substances which have no place in the human body.

- Carolyn, Isle of Man

I have never trusted any artificial sweetener, and never will;
stick with sugar and you can't go far wrong.

- Harry Kourtellaris, Uxbridge, UK

I have just spent the morning reading through some documents --
10 pages of the report and
the answers to the report on the Aspartame web site.
So who and what are we to believe?
An independent not-for-profit research organisation,
or a wholly biased fully-for-profit company?
If there is a problem with this product, then surely someone,
somewhere can agree on a test that is both definitive and independent. base their reply on tests that are out of date
and this new Italian test uses the currently accepted standard
for carcinogenic toxicity.
A call for a decisive new test, using the correct terminology
(to please and using the recognised standards for
toxicity is due: and this must be carried by a truly independent body,
i.e. ask the European Ramazzini Foundation to repeat their
experiments under peer review of European government scientists.

The safety of this product must be clarified.

- John Boulton, Lincoln, England.

It's about time that consumers say no to processed food.
big companies have been messing with our food for too long.
They are putting profit before our health.
It's a frightening thought that a lot of these products
are consumed by children on a daily basis --
what health problems are they storing up for later life?
I buy organic as much as I can, I urge others to do the same.

- Rachel, Maidenhead UK

Chemicals!....When Prince Charles suggested organic
which equals 'imperfect' shaped apples etc. he was ridiculed.
He is being proved right, our bodies cannot cope with these chemicals.
One shudders to think what damage they have done.

- Barbara Steward, Northumberland, UK

This is yet another example of us being poisoned and misled
and lied to by big corporations driven by greed.

- V, Farnham, Surrey, UK

Why is this news now?
I remember hearing this at the time of the safety trials
in the late 70's early 80's when I was at school,
the deaths of the test subjects and their subsequent replacement
was defended by saying that people would need
to eat tons of the stuff to have the same effect.
Well, we ARE eating tons of the stuff
because it is in nearly everything we eat now.

- Ian Gilfillan, Glasgow, UK

I can say that aspartame definitely causes migraine for me.
I know now that if I eat yogurt in the evening and it shows aspartame in
the list of ingredients, without fail I wake up next morning with a
So I am very careful now to check!
I have found all sorts of foods have aspartame added to them,
sometimes under the name of phenylalanine (if that's how you spell it!).

- Liz C., Bristol, UK

Once again British Ministers and Civil Servants
put Corporate Profit before Public Health.
Glib "we have no evidence";
"the advice that we have" etc. etc. won't wash any more.
You decide to ignore evidence from any reputable source
and you are denied any defence for neglect of public duty.
A Minsters first duty should be to the Public who voted them into office.
When and if things are found NOT to be safe,
that Minister along with all who gave contrary advice,
including civil servants, advisers and industry magnates,
should be put on public trial for the harm that they caused
or permitted to take place by inaction.

- Jack, Glasgow

is this yet another food scare?
I have been using Canderel which contains aspartame for years.
No problems yet and I am not going to stop now.

- Marilynne Tomlinson, Blackpool, UK

My daughter was diagnosed diabetic at the age of 7.
She is now 21 and for years we were instructed
that she should have 'sugar free' food.
All sugar-free foods have Aspartame
and over the years I have become more and more concerned
at the amount she is consuming.
My daughter ended up with having a 'sweetness' addiction,
and only now is making progress in getting off this stuff
by trying to find (which is almost impossible) drinks
with no added sugar or sweeteners.
I find it appalling that our food and drink can be tampered with
to such an extent that it is difficult to find foods without them --
when you do they are usually very expensive.
Diabetics should not be consuming sugar laden foods and drinks
and I personally feel chemical sweeteners are probably just as,
if not more, harmful.
I suggest people read up on Aspartame and judge for themselves.

- Pat Elkins, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion

Aspartame has also been linked to depression
various behavioural problems in children.

- Tobias Cooper, London, UK

Thank the Lord!
The people who produce these chemicals for our food
have been suppressing this sort of thing for a long time.
We want more natural nutrition
and if you look at cancer rates since we started messing
with food and chemicals you may understand
the scale of the problem of not eating naturally.

- Paul Sheppard, Brighton , UK

What a lot of rubbish.
I used to work for the International Sweeteners Association
who has commissioned many scientific research
projects regarding Aspartame.
It is true that if you were to drink 60 cans of diet soda
sweetened with Aspartame every single day over +/- 15 years
then yes you might start having problems.
As with all additives there is an Acceptable Daily Intake
and it is only when you go over that limit
that you could be looking for trouble.
Did you know that there is an ADI for salt?
I wish that these people would look up the scientific facts
before "scaremongering"!

- Joanna, Brussels, Belgium

I have read all the posts and have to say it's more of the same,
if the research is independent it must be true.
There is an acceptable scientific standard called relative risk.
If the research in Italy was conducted against this back ground
then the scientists should be able to publish the relative risk,
but as I understand it they do not even attempt to do
which is why quite correctly the sweetener company is disputing the
I don't know if it's dangerous but with the right science I can make a

- Robert Feal-Martinez, Swindon, UK
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John Radcliffe Hospital
Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain,
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Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain,
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************************************************** *****
unsafe aspartame must be banned, Roger Williams,
MP in UK Parliament, Felicity Lawrence, The Guardian:
Murray 2005.12.15

Safety of artificial sweetener called into question by MP:
Examples cited in the Commons of the 6,000 products with aspartame

Felicity Lawrence, consumer affairs correspondent
Thursday December 15, 2005 The Guardian
************************************************** *****

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Any unsuspected source of methanol, which the body always quickly
and largely turns into formaldehyde and then formic acid, must be
monitored, especially for high responsibility occupations, often with
night shifts, such as pilots and nuclear reactor operators.

In particular, the next review gives many recent mainstream
peer-reviewed studies that show formaldehyde,
always inevitably derived in the body from any methanol source,
including aspartame, causes endothelial injury,
ie, diabetic neuropathy -- among the most serious and complex
complications of diabetes.
many studies on endothelial injury (diabetic neuropathy) by adducts of
formaldehyde derived from methylamine from many of the same sources
as also supply methanol (formaldehyde), including aspartame:
PH Yu et al: DJ Conklin et al: Murray 2005.12.04
ubiquitous potent uncontrolled co-factors in nutrition research are
formaldehyde from wood and tobacco smoke and many sources,
including from methanol in dark wines and liquors, in pectins
in fruits and vegetables, and in aspartame: Murray 2005.12.15
aspartame causes cancer in rats at levels approved for humans,
Morando Soffritti et al, Ramazzini Foundation, Italy &
National Toxicology Program
of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
2005.11.17 Env. Health Pers. 35 pages: Murray

As a medical layman, I suggest that evidence mandates immediate
exploration of the role of these ubiquitious, potent formaldehyde
sources as co-factors in epidemiology, research, diagnosis,
and treatment in a wide variety of disorders.

Folic acid, from fruits and vegetables, plays a role by powerfully
protecting against methanol (formaldehyde) toxicity.

Many common drugs, such as aspirin, interfere with folic acid,
as do some mutations in relevant enzymes.

The majority of aspartame reactors are female.

In mutual service, Rich Murray
************************************************** *****

Rich Murray, MA Room For All
505-501-2298 1943 Otowi Road Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
group with 149 members, 1,266 posts in a public, searchable archive

Dark wines and liquors, as well as aspartame, provide
similar levels of methanol, above 100 mg daily, for
long-term heavy users, 2 L daily, about 6 cans.

Methanol is inevitably largely turned into formaldehyde,
and thence largely into formic acid.
It is the major cause of the dreaded symptoms of "next
morning" hangover.

Fully 11% of aspartame is methanol -- 1,120 mg aspartame
in 2 L diet soda, almost six 12-oz cans, gives 123 mg
methanol (wood alcohol). If 30% of the methanol is turned
into formaldehyde, the amount of formaldehyde, 37 mg,
is 18.5 times the USA EPA limit for daily formaldehyde in
drinking water, 2.0 mg in 2 L average daily drinking water.
faults in 1999 July EPA 468-page formaldehyde profile:
Elzbieta Skrzydlewska PhD, Assc. Prof., Medical U. of
Bialystok, Poland, abstracts -- ethanol, methanol,
formaldehyde, formic acid, acetaldehyde, lipid peroxidation,
green tea, aging: Murray 2004.08.08 2005.07.11
ATSDR: EPA limit 1 ppm formaldehyde in drinking water July
1999: Murray 2002.05.30 rmforall

Aspartame is made of phenylalanine (50% by weight) and
aspartic acid (39%), both ordinary amino acids, bound
loosely together by methanol (wood alcohol, 11%).
The readily released methanol from aspartame is within hours
turned by the liver into formaldehyde and then formic acid,
both potent, cumulative toxins.
Nurses Health Study can quickly reveal the extent of aspartame
(methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid) toxicity: Murray 2004.11.21
[ Any scientist can get access to this data for free by submitting a proper
research proposal.
No one has admitted mining the extensive data on diet soda use
and many symptoms for decades for about 100,000 nurses. ]
aspartame (methanol, phenylalanine, aspartic acid) effects, detailed
expert studies in 2005 Aug and 1998 July, Tsakiris S, Schulpis KH,
Karikas GA, Kokotos G, Reclos RJ, et al,
Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital, Athens, Greece: Murray 2005.09.09
aspartame (aspartic acid, phenylalanine) binding to DNA:
Karikas July 1998: Murray 2003.01.05 rmforall
Karikas GA, Schulpis KH, Reclos GJ, Kokotos G
Measurement of molecular interaction of aspartame and
its metabolites with DNA. Clin Biochem 1998 Jul; 31(5): 405-7.
Dept. of Chemistry, University of Athens, Greece
K.H. Schulpis G.J. Reclos
Murray, full plain text & critique: chronic aspartame in rats affects
memory, brain cholinergic receptors, and brain chemistry, Christian B,
McConnaughey M et al, 2004 May: 2004.06.05
eyelid contact dermatitis by formaldehyde from aspartame,
AM Hill & DV Belsito, Nov 2003: Murray 2004.03.30

Thrasher (2001): "The major difference is that the Japanese
demonstrated the incorporation of FA and its metabolites into the
placenta and fetus.
The quantity of radioactivity remaining in maternal and fetal tissues
at 48 hours was 26.9% of the administered dose." [ Ref. 14-16 ]

Arch Environ Health 2001 Jul-Aug; 56(4): 300-11.
Embryo toxicity and teratogenicity of formaldehyde. [100 references]
Thrasher JD, Kilburn KH.
Sam-1 Trust, Alto, New Mexico, USA. full text
DMDC: Dimethyl dicarbonate 200mg/L in drinks adds
methanol 98 mg/L [ becomes formaldehyde in body ]: EU Scientific
Committee on Foods 2001.07.12: Murray 2004.01.22
aspartame puts formaldehyde adducts into tissues, Part 1/2
full text Trocho & Alemany 1998.06.26: Murray 2002.12.22
Aspartame disease: an FDA-approved epidemic, H. J. Roberts,
MD 2004: Murray 2005.09.30
Aspartame -- the shocking story, The Ecologist, 2005 Sept.,
p. 35-51, full text: Murray 2005.09.30: the correct author,
Pat Thomas, What Doctors Don't Tell You :
genotoxicity of aspartame in human lymphocytes 2004.07.29
full plain text, Rencuzogullari E et al, Cukurova University,
Adana, Turkey 2004 Aug: Murray 2004.11.06
NM EIB votes 4-2 for 5-day aspartame toxicity hearing July,
2006, requesting a Hearing Officer and a medical expert from
Environmental Dept. and legal advice from NM Attorney
General: Murray 2005.10.04
ubiquitous potent uncontrolled co-factors in nutrition research are
formaldehyde from wood and tobacco smoke and many sources,
including from methanol in dark wines and liquors, in pectins
in fruits and vegetables, and in aspartame: Murray 2005.12.11
fructose in rats increases uric acid, obesity, insulin resistance,
endothelial damage -- RJ Johnson et al, U. Florida: Murray 2005.12.07
************************************************** *****
hangover research relevant to toxicity of 11% methanol in
aspartame (formaldehyde, formic acid): Calder I (full text):
Jones AW: Murray 2004.08.05 2005.09.28

Since no adaquate data has ever been published on the exact
disposition of toxic metabolites in specific tissues in
humans of the 11% methanol component of aspartame, the many
studies on morning-after hangover from the methanol impurity
in alcohol drinks are the main available resource to date.

Jones AW (1987) found next-morning hangover from red wine
with 100 to 150 mg methanol (9.5% w/v ethanol, 100 mg/L
methanol, 0.01%, one part in ten thousand).
Joining together: short review: research on aspartame
methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid) toxicity: Murray
2005.07.08 rmforall
research on aspartame (methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid)
toxicity: Murray2004.04.29 rmforall
aspartame causes cancer in rats at levels approved for humans,
Morando Soffritti et al, Ramazzini Foundation, Italy &
National Toxicology Program
of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
2005.11.17 Env. Health Pers. 35 pages: Murray
USA National Institutes of Health National Toxicology
Program aids eminent Ramazzini Foundation, Bologna, Italy,
in more results on cancers in rats from lifetime low levels
of aspartame (methanol, formaldehyde), Felicity Lawrence, Murray 2005.09.30
aspartame induces lymphomas and leukaemias in rats, full plain text,
M Soffritti, F Belpoggi, DD Esposti, L Lambertini: Ramazzini
Foundation study 2005.07.14: main results agree with their previous
methanol and formaldehyde studies: Murray 2005.09.03
Michael F Jacobson of CSPI now and in 1985 re aspartame
toxicity, letter to FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford;
California OEHHA aspartame critique 2004.03.12; Center for
Consumer Freedom denounces CSPI: Murray 2005.07.27
methanol (formaldehyde, formic acid) disposition: Bouchard M
et al, full plain text, 2001: substantial sources are
degradation of fruit pectins, liquors, aspartame, smoke:
Murray 2005.04.02 rmforall
************************************************** *****
critique of aspartame review, French Food Safety Agency AFSSA
2002.05.07 aspartamgb.pdf (18 pages, in English), Martin Hirsch:
Murray 2004.04.13
safety of aspartame Part 1/2 12.4.2: EC HCPD-G SCF:
Murray 2003.01.12 rmforall EU Scientific Committee on Food, a whitewash
Mark Gold exhaustively critiques European Commission Scientific
Committee on Food re aspartame ( 2002.12.04 ): 59 pages, 230 references
Aspartame Toxicity Information Center Mark D. Gold
12 East Side Drive #2-18 Concord, NH 03301 603-225-2100
"Scientific Abuse in Aspartame Research"

Gold points out that industry methanol assays were too insensitive to
properly measure blood methanol levels. ]
J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Feb; 104(2): 255-75.
Position of the American Dietetic Association: use of nutritive and
nonnutritive sweeteners. American Dietetic Association.
critique of aspartame review by American Dietetic Association Feb 2004,
Valerie B. Duffy & Madeleine J. Sigman-Grant:
Murray 2004.05.14

"Survey of aspartame studies: correlation of outcome and funding
sources," 1998, unpublished:
Walton found 166 separate published studies in the peer reviewed
medical literature, which had relevance for questions of human safety.
The 74 studies funded by industry all (100%) attested to aspartame's
safety, whereas of the 92 non-industry funded studies, 84 (91%)
identified a problem. Six of the seven non-industry funded studies
that were favorable to aspartame safety were from the FDA, which
has a public record that shows a strong pro-industry bias.
Ralph G. Walton, MD, Prof. of Clinical Psychology, Northeastern Ohio
Universities, College of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry, Youngstown,
OH 44501, Chairman, The Center for Behavioral Medicine,
Northside Medical Center, 500 Gypsy Lane, P.O. Box 240
Youngstown, OH 44501 330-740-3621 original documents and long reviews of flaws in
aspartame toxicity research: Murray 2002.07.31
Samuels: Strong: Roberts: Gold: flaws in double-blind studies re
aspartame and MSG toxicity: Murray 2002.08.01 Truth in Labeling Campaign [MSG]
Adrienne Samuels, PhD The toxicity/safety of processed
free glutamic acid (MSG): a study in suppression of information.
Accountability in Research 1999; 6: 259-310. 52-page review
P.O. Box 2532 Darien, Illinois 60561
aspartame expose 96K Oct 1987 Part 1/3:
Gregory Gordon, UPI reporter: Murray 2000.07.10
aspartame history Part 1/4 1964-1976: Gold: Murray 1999.11.06
revolving door, Monsanto, FDA, EPA: NGIN: Murray 2002.12.23
Donald Rumsfeld, 1977 head of Searle Corp., got aspartame FDA
approval: Turner: Murray 2002.12.23 rmforall
************************************************** *****