Study suggests link between aspartame and brain cancer
NutraSweet dismisses concerns
November 18, 1996
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Several consumer groups renewed their criticism of aspartame Monday, citing a new
study suggesting a possible link between the artificial
sweetener and brain tumors.
Aspartame is a low-calorie synthetic sweetener made up of two
amino acids and methanol. It is sold under the brand names
NutraSweet and Equal and is added to many food products as a
The Community Nutrition Institute and the Centers for Science
in the Public Interest called for more
government tests on aspartame, which the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has previously defended as safe.
The renewed attention follows a medical study published this
month in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental
In the report, Dr. John Olney of Washington University in St.
Louis says brain cancer rates in the United States jumped 10
percent shortly after NutraSweet was approved by the FDA for
widespread use in 1983.
The reports says that while there's no proof aspartame is
connected to the rise, the increase is suspicious,
especially in light of an earlier study showing rats given
aspartame developed an unusually high number of brain tumors.
The FDA and NutraSweet dismiss the concerns. They say brain
tumor rates started going up before aspartame was put on the
market and then leveled off.
Aspartame's defenders also offer a different interpretation
of the rat studies, saying there were not any dramatic
differences in the number of tumors between rats on
aspartame and those that were not.
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