Aspartame linked with cancer in humans

I, for a long time, have been suspicious of artificial sweeteners. At least some of my scepticism has been focused on the sweetening agent aspartame (Nutrasweet, Candarel, Equal). While studies with industry funding give aspartame a clean bill of health, independently-funded work generally does not. And we know that the constituents of aspartame (aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol) have the potential to affect the body and brain adversely. See this blog post on a review of the potential hazards of aspartame.

Recently, another concerning independently-funded piece of research concerning aspartame was published. It looked, amongst other things, at the association between diet-soda consumption and risk of cancer of the lymph system (non-Hodgkin lymphoma), leukaemia and another form of blood cancer known as multiple myeloma, in adults over a 22-year period [1]. Studies of this nature are referred to as ‘epidemiological’ studies and are prone to ‘confounding’. For example, individuals carrying excess weight may be at increased risk of blood cancers because of this, but might also be more likely to drink diet soda. In this case, an association between diet soda and blood cancer may not be due to the diet soda, but because diet soda drinkers tend to be heavier. In this study, though, confounding factors were taken into consideration and ‘controlled for’.

In short, the results of this study showed that:

  • In women, diet soda consumption was not associated with the risk of an increased risk of either non-Hodgkin lymphoma or multiple myeloma.
  • In men, drinking one or more serving of diet soda per day was associated with a 31 per cent increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (compared to lower intakes).
  • In men, drinking one or more serving of diet soda per day was associated with a more than doubling of risk of multiple myeloma (compared to lower intakes).
  • In men and women combined, drinking one or more serving of diet soda each day was associated with a 42 per cent increased risk of leukaemia (compared to lower intakes).
  • Positive associations also existed between intakes of aspartame specifically and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

Now, epidemiological evidence of this nature cannot be used to suggest that aspartame causes these conditions. However, this evidence is suspicious when it is known that aspartame has been found to cause lymphoma and leukaemia when administered to rats in the long term in doses that equate to what would be regarded as acceptable in humans (doses as low as 20 mg per kg of body weight) [2].

If aspartame does cause cancer, how might it do it? Well, one constituent of aspartame is methanol (‘wood alcohol’ and the primary constituent in methylated spirits) which in the body can be converted into formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is what’s used to preserve dead bodies but it’s also a known cancer-causing agent.

This potential mechanism might also help explain why increased risk of cancer was seen in men and not women. There’s an enzyme known as ‘alcohol dehydrogenase type 1’ which speeds the conversion of methanol into carcinogenic formaldehyde. Alcohol dehydrogenase type 1 activity tends to be higher in men than in women. Alcohol consumption inhibits this enzyme, and it’s interesting to note that in the most recent study the men at most risk appeared to be those who drank the least alcohol.

This, for me, is not necessarily a good reason to throw a whiskey in one’s diet coke. This study is, I think, another piece of evidence that points to aspartame having toxic potential and something best avoided.

References:

1. Schernhammer ES, et al. Consumption of artificial sweetener– and sugar-containing soda and risk of lymphoma and leukemia in men and women. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:1419–28.

2. Soffritti M, et al. First experimental demonstration of the multipotential carcinogenic effects of aspartame administered in the feed to Sprague-Dawley rats. Environ Health Perspect 2006;114:379–85

33 Responses to Aspartame linked with cancer in humans

  1. Chloe Brotheridge 13 November 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    I think it’s amazing that the NHS still recommends swapping sugary drinks for artifically sweetened ones as a way of losing weight. Surely it increases a sweet tooth in itself? I wonder if there is any research into this…Naturally slim people don’t drink diet coke, overweight people do…

  2. Anne 14 November 2012 at 1:00 am #

    So please tell what people who are on medication which contains aspartame can do ? I, for example, am prescribed Strontium Ranelate for osteoporosis and this contains a small amount of aspartame. I do not want to change to a bisphosphonate medication which can adversely affect bones, even paradoxically, causing fractures. Strontium Ranelate has been shown to actually build new bone and after nearly six years on it I have had no side effects and no fractures and I am thrilled. Of course right when I started on it six years ago I wrote to Sevier who manufacture it and asked why they had to put aspartame in it. They recounted that it was perfectly safe. I cannot imagine that the phramcuetical industry would continue to manufacture medicines which may lead to cancer because of the aspartame in them – the damages which they would have to pay out would be astronomical !

  3. Lizzy 15 November 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    @ Anne….. maybe you could look at a more natural way to build your bones such as eating bone broths and eating more protein? Also, too much dairy can be bad for bone health contrary to popular beliefs.

    The manufacturer of a drug is hardly likely to tell you it’s dangerous!!!

    The pharmaceutical INDUSTRY isn’t a charity. It’s out to make as much money as it can and, like any other business, will cut corners if allowed.

  4. Ben Grima 15 November 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Regarding the citation of the second study, whilst it is worrying that aspartame has been linked to lukemia with ongoing consumption at just 20mg/kg body weight per day, this is equivalent to a 70kg adult drink 2.5litres of diet coke per day over a prolonged period of time (given there’s around 185mg aspartame in 330ml), which takes some commitment. And then there’s only a slightly increased risk.
    I fear we may be worrying too much about the effects, as most people just don’t consume enough. Most of the studies showing issues with the additive use far greater quantities per kg body weight than those permitted- hence the regulation. After all, few additives can be consumed ad libitum without side effects. Obviously, even water will kill you if you drink too much. It just seems to me that the dangers of aspartame pale in significance to many perscription drugs etc. which may well be taken on an ongoing basis.

  5. Monika 16 November 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Ben, I agree it may not be the most important toxin out there. Nevertheless your point that people won’t get through that much may be coming from your own experience rather than the reality for some. There are those (often the most overweight) who can get through quite a bit more than you might think. A McDonalds large drink would be about 500ml admittedly but there are much bigger sizes that people can buy – right up to the monstrous 128 floz (that’s 3.7L!!) Team-Gulp 7-Eleven. As you said a can is about 350mls – but I have known some people in my time who can get through 8-12 of these a day…..sad but true. But even if you had “only” one or two of those a day PLUS a few teas/coffees or hot chocolates, yoghurts, fruit juices, sweets or biscuits – all with added sweeteners – it can easily start to add up. Moreover, it doesn’t help reduce the desire for sweet things or help you reduce your cravings for processed foods, just gives the false impresssion that as long as you are substituting then you’ll be fine. See this link on the US fixation with drinks that are almost too big to chug:
    http://www.motherjones.com/media/2012/06/supersize-biggest-sodas-mcdonalds-big-gulp-chart

  6. Anne 16 November 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    @Lizzy – I do tons of natural things for my bones, bone broths, protein foods BUT not dairy. I don’t eat dairy foods as I follow a Paleo way of eating which is no grains, no dairy and very low carb. I eat an “alkaline loaded” diet. I take a high dose of vitamin D 3 and get my levels checked 6 monthly – I am in the upper optimal range at 139 nmol/L. I take vitamin K2 which is the latest thing which helps with both bone and heart health. I do weight bearing exercise, a spcific high intensity super slow weight lifting tehnique which is known to help build bone density, plus walking a few miles every day. Strontium Ranelate – well if we were in America I would be encouraged to take Strontium Citrate from the health food store – we’re lucky here in the UK that we can get Strontium on prescription on the NHS….the only shame is the aspartame but I will risk the aspartame so my bones don’t get broken !

  7. Frederica Huxley 16 November 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    Anne – a quick look at amazon.co.uk shows that there are 3 different strontium citrates on offer!

  8. Richard David Feinman 17 November 2012 at 12:32 am #

    Have you read the report, Dr. Briffa? I find this surprising. Why do abstracts keep saying things like “42 per cent increased risk of leukaemia?” You know that relative risk is meaningless — as I always describe it, you can double your chances of winning the lottery by buying two tickets instead of one. The Nurses Health Study can prove anything will give you any disease. Until you read the report critically you are irresponsibly scaring people like Anne. This group is the same group using the same methods to tell you that saturated fat is bad but you don’t believe that, do you? Or do you?

  9. Sue G 17 November 2012 at 2:12 am #

    If drinking alcohol negates the effect of aspartame, perhaps a small libation might help?

  10. Dr. Bill Wilson 17 November 2012 at 8:42 am #

    What is interesting is that people with normal brain function don’t seem to need to eat anything sweet to be satisfied. It appears that the combination of excessive fructose mainly from sugar and HFCS and high glycemic carbohydrates mainly from grains are the primary trigger of a form of food-induced brain dysfunction called Carbohydrate Associated Reversible Brain syndrome or CARB syndrome.

    The first symptom that people with CARB syndrome develop is craving for sweet and starchy foods. We once thought that artificial sweeteners were the answer for people who crave sweet foods loaded with sugar. Recent evidence suggests that virtually all artificial sweeteners have their own adverse effects on brain function.

    If you have normal brain function (no CARB syndrome), you will be satisfied by eating real food. You won’t need to eat food loaded with these toxic elements.

  11. Dr John Briffa 17 November 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Richard

    I don’t agree with the idea that relative risk is meaningless – it allows us to see if certain things are associated with other things. But of course this is epidemiological evidence, so we can’t draw conclusions regarding causality here, which is why I was circumspect about the results. I did, however, put the results in the context of animal work which found that aspartame caused similar malignancies in animals. So the reason why I wrote this post is because the data supports a link between aspartame and certain cancers (sorry if anyone got scared, but I tend to assume we’re all grown-ups).

    You are right, though, that I don’t believe saturated fat causes heart disease. And that’s because (as I think you know), the data as a whole simply does not support it (neither epidemiological nor intervention studies). That’s the difference here.

  12. André 17 November 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Aspartame creates massive amounts of free radicals in the brain. That’s not good. Dr Blaylock calls it a neurotoxin. Same thing with MSG and carrageenan. All inflammatory through ROS-damage and all found in many foods. And combined (eat something with MSG in it and drink a diet Coke) is even worse. And none of them found in nature in free form. Processed foods will kill you. But hey, what’s new?

  13. Richard David Feinman 17 November 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    MSG is a natural amino acid that your body must have. In large amounts it can stimulate neuronal pathways but it is not inherently toxic, just the opposite. You cannot live without glutamate. On aspartame, toxins are defined by the dose.

  14. Richard David Feinman 18 November 2012 at 1:43 am #

    Let me explain why I think relative risk is meaningless and how, in fact, in this case, it makes you think that there is an effect when there isn’t one.

    Suppose that you found 81 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in 1000 men who never drank soda, but in those men who drank more than 1 serving/day, you found 121 cases out of 1000 men. So the risk with no soda is 8.1 % and with soda. 12.1 % and the risk ratio is 12.1/8.1 = 1.49, or an increase in 40 cases in a thousand, or 33 % increase in risk. This doesn’t sound so good, especially to those of us who drink a lot of diet Coke. If there is an increase in 40 cases in a thousand, that’s not a knock-out — the absolute risk increase is 12.1 % – 8.1 % = 4 % — but it’s something think about.

    The problem is that if we only got the information that there was a 33 % in risk, we wouldn’t know what’s really going on. You would get the same relative risk if there were 81 cases in 200 no soda men (40.5 % risk) and 121 cases in 200 men who drank soda (60.5 %). Same relative risk, 33 %, but and absolute increase in risk = 20 % risk increase — now I’m scared.

    But here’s what I see in Schernhammer’s paper (check me on this; one of the things I have in common with great scientists, is that I am not good at arithmetic): The people who had no soda, had 8.1 cases of NHL per 1000 people or 0.81 % risk. In the high soda group, this went up to 12.1 cases of NHL per thousand or 1.21 %. What? We’re talking about increase of 4 people in a thousand. An absolute risk increase = 0.4 %, less than one-half of 1 per cent. Well, they would say, multiply that by millions and you see the benefit. But you can’t multiply a meaningless number; the errors are way too large to think small numbers mean anything. The tip-off is that in the intermediate values for aspartame intake, the risk was higher but the results were not statistically significant. In other words, the methods and the collection of data is just mostly noise, no signal.

    The author’s are suitably cagey “our findings preserve the possibility of a detrimental effect of a constituent of diet soda.” (Translation: we got nothing. We were not totally knocked out of the box but we got nothing). In a slip into honesty: “the inconsistent sex effects and occurrence of an apparent cancer risk in individuals who consume regular soda do not permit the ruling out of chance as an explanation.” They forgot to add that the few effects we found were pathetically small.

    You are stuck with your intuition but the lipophobes have their intuition and they have much more data showing that saturated fat causes heart disease.

  15. Brian 18 November 2012 at 3:11 am #

    if you don’t want to use sugar or chemical sweeteners , then if you can get hold of it, why not try the natural sweetener, Stevia? Stevia has been safely used for hundeds of years , it is extremely sweet and it has very low amount of calories, if any calories at all. The only trouble is that you may not be able to cook with it . I found that it It becomes bitter if you do. Nevertheless , I found it to be a very good sweetener, especially in porridge, just as long as you put the stevia in when the porridge has been cooked. . PS: Stevia is expensive. However half a teaspoon of Stevia goes a long way.
    enough to sweeten my bowl of porridge.

  16. Richard David Feinman 18 November 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    John,
    I hate to argue with my friends, especially when I am right. There are a lot of issues here but, for a start, this is not epidemiological evidence. It is not anything. It is not just that the intermediate values go up but that they are also not statistically significant indicating the randomness in the whole method. The idea that an absolute difference of a few per cent means anything at all is ridiculous. Nothing has been accomplished here and the whole thing is ridiculous in that there is no way to say that this bears on cancer. So it is zero. It is not suggestive. It is not trending. It is zero. Are we agreed on that?

    Unless the animal studies are compelling and have good underlying rationale they have to be considered tentative at best. E.g., mice get fat on high-fat diets whether there is carbohydrate there or not. We have shown that ourselves http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/pdf/1743-7075-9-69.pdf.

    Neurotoxic is a question of dose. If you had not done your homework and could not tell me the relative amounts of methanol in common foods and in soda, then hell, John, I’d look for another doctor.

    RDF

  17. André 18 November 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Glutamate is an aminoacid that is used in the human body and part of many natural foods like old cheese and ripe tomato’s. But in nature it is always part of a protein. So it it takes time for the stomach to digest the protein and the glutamate is released gradualy into the blood stream. When adding MSG to your food it is not tied to a protein, so it is instantly pushed into the bloodstream causing a spike and it stays elevated for hours.

    Glutamate regulates the amount of calcium that enters into the (brain-) cell. Too much calcium will kill the cell, and too much glutamate leads to too much calcium. That’s why the amount of glutamate is tightly regulated by the body. So creating unnatural spikes is really not a good idea.

  18. Dr John Briffa 19 November 2012 at 2:30 am #

    Richard

    The tip-off is that in the intermediate values for aspartame intake, the risk was higher but the results were not statistically significant. In other words, the methods and the collection of data is just mostly noise, no signal.

    If we were to assume a causal link for a moment (although, just to be clear, in reality I would do no such thing), then another explanation of course is that there’s a threshold effect (only intakes above a certain level cause cancer).

    I appreciate the numbers are small, but formaldehyde (metabolite of methanol) is recognised as a human carcinogen and aspartame has been shown to cause cancer in animals. Are you really saying that a stance based on positive epidemiological and experimental animal evidence can be relegated to the ranks of “intuition”? Really?

    And as I explained in my last response to you, the reason that I don’t believe saturated fat causes heart disease is because the data does not support this idea, so the comparison you’ve drawn here seems unfair and inappropriate.

    If you were a patient of mine, Richard, I’d be inclined to explain that aspartame has neurotoxic potential and advise you to knock it off.

  19. Dr John Briffa 19 November 2012 at 9:19 am #

    So it is zero. It is not suggestive. It is not trending. It is zero. Are we agreed on that?

    No, I don’t agree. There’s an association. The numbers are small, but it still exists.

    If you had not done your homework and could not tell me the relative amounts of methanol in common foods and in soda, then hell, John, I’d look for another doctor.

    For a start, in this context I referred to aspartame not methanol. But, leaving that aside, I’d have to tell you that the toxicity of methanol is reduced by ethanol, which is found in many common foods but not in soda. And I’d also have to respectively point out that methanol (methyl group) cannot be cleaved from pectin (say, in fruit), but can be cleaved from aspartame (so in this light your question about methanol in common foods is redundant).

    Neurotoxic [sic] is a question of dose.

    It’s not just a question of dose, Richard, it’s a question of individual susceptibility too: something we’d find difficult to ascertain. I tend towards the precautionary principle here, just like I would if you asked me if cyanide was a good thing to swig back each day. Do we have any published human studies that prove this harms health? No, but there’s more than enough evidence to suggest that it’s probably not such a good idea. Same with aspartame, I think. Though I’m totally comfortable with you rejecting this opinion, Richard, because (as I said before) we’re all grown-ups here.

  20. Richard David Feinman 19 November 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    If you were my student, I’d be inclined to ask you to go over the data and look at the error and see whether there is anything predictable at all. In other words, if there is a few per cent absolute difference between the ‘with’ and ‘without aspartame’ groups but the variability within each individual group is far greater than that, you don’t know anything.

    Your opinion i stronger than the authors’. They admit that the data “do not permit the ruling out of chance as an explanation.” In science, if you don’t know, you don’t know. But the same methodology by the same group has much stronger correlation with saturated fat and heart disease, with white rather than brown rice on diabetes, dangers of red meat and, of course, the seventh egg http://wp.me/p16vK0-15.

    I don’t understand about aspartame. As far as I know, it is the methanol that is the purported risk factor. Low levels of amino acids cannot be considered a risk (especially since you don’t even know what amino acid is living the gut when aspartate is taken in). And methanol IS cleaved from pectin, both non-enzymatically and enzymatically, there are methylesterases that are released when fruit is chopped or otherwise handled.

    Sure, beef is safe for you, but what about individual susceptibility. You don’t know who is going to be sensitive to beef. Err on the side of caution?

    How about this that we can agree on? I showed that relative risk is not meaningful. That, to be informative, other parameters, absolute difference in risk or number needed to treat. Surely you agree that 22 % reduction in risk can be 32 deaths per 1000 vs 41 deaths per 1000 in the control, or it could mean 32 deaths per million and 41 deaths per million but you would be disinclined to act on the latter — maybe also on the former (data from WOSCOPS statin trial). Example disussed in “Calculated Risk” by Gerd Gigerenzer, which I recommend to your readers as a good popular statistics book. So, can we agree that the widely used relative risk conveys little of no information in the absence of sample size and actual number of events?

    On a personal note: I just finished “The Emperor of All Maladies,” about cancer. The discussion of leukemia is sort of harrowing and I am sure you have professional experience. I find HSPH’s using there pathetic cookbook computer methods on such a serious business, disgusting and obscene.

    Finally, I’ve always liked your book and your blog and appreciate your contribution in general but you have no idea what your talking about here.

  21. Anne 19 November 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    I find the talk between Dr Briffa and Dr Feinman very interesting. Looking more that study I would say, as a lay person, that since the men in the study were overweight that it was their weight that was contributing to the risk of cancer. I thought it was pretty well established that being overweight is a cancer risk.

    I am still VERY happy that I can take a GOOD medication for osteoporosis (Strontium) as well as doing lots of other ‘natural’ things to increase my bone health. I know that many women are unable to get Strontium Ranelate because it is more expensive that bisphosphonates such as alendronic acid (Fosimax) so I am VERY grateful to my GP for prescribing me this. Of course it would be better if it wasn’t sweetened with aspartame but there it is. I am not going to buy Strontium Citrate – I am not wealthy enough to buy the stuff when I can get Strontium Ranelate for the cost of an NHS prescription…and GP gives me three months’ supply on one prescription.

    What is the relative risk of dying in a car accident ? Much, much higher than the hypothetical risk proposed here of dying from cancer after consuming drinks with aspartame. And many cyclists carrying on cycling on the roads when their risk of death is realtively huge.

  22. Dr John Briffa 20 November 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Richard

    Your opinion i [sic] stronger than the authors’

    Is it, Richard? Really? What do you think of these lines (emphasis added)?:

    “Aspartame linked with cancer in humans”

    “Now, epidemiological evidence of this nature cannot be used to suggest that aspartame causes these conditions.”

    If aspartame does cause cancer, how might it do it?”

    “This study is, I think, another piece of evidence that points to aspartame having toxic potential and something best avoided.”

    Not exactly definitive, is it? So please don’t suggest or hint that I have somehow been stronger on this than I have in reality.

    I’ve expressed an opinion that my preference is for the avoidance of aspartame in the diet. And I’ve got good reasons for that opinion, based on research referred to here as well as other research (some of which I’ve discussed elsewhere) as well as my clinical experience.

    In science, if you don’t know, you don’t know.

    I agree. Just like we don’t know for sure that being smashed in the face with a mallet will hurt and injure us, but that should not stop us expressing an opinion about this, right?

    Do you think that every opinion you expressed is based on indisputable fact? Where do you stand on ‘metabolic advantage’, for instance? Are you confident enough to say you know metabolic advantage exists?

    This is how science is in reality – rarely do we definitely ‘know’ things beyond any shadow of a doubt. At the end of the day, for the most part, we end up expressing opinions (not indisputable facts as perhaps you’d like to believe). Most clinicians know this, I think. Most academics seem to struggle with the concept, for some reason.

  23. André 20 November 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    In general, if you don’t know, you don’t know. When scientists disagree, who to believe? As I am not a scientist, I need a simple rule to guide me through the field of opinions. And it is this one : when we work against mother nature we get sick. So all artificial things tend to make us sick. Think artificial sweeteners, flavours, margerine etc. Even artificial light (electric light) makes us ill. Eating fruit in the summer is oké, as it is natural to occur. And the vitamine D that the sunlight gives us makes for a strong immune system to handle the carbs. In winter, there is no fruit in the trees where I live. And the sun is weak. No fruits for me now as it is unnatural.

    This list goes on and on. And scientific evidence (not mine) supports it.

    Fight mother nature and you will pay. Simple rule, I know. But it works for me.

  24. Dr John Briffa 20 November 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Andre

    I, for one, would not argue with your thinking, here. Some of the simplest ‘rules’ can turn out to be the best.

    John

  25. Richard David Feinman 20 November 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    I will explain on my blog. I would say that if you take this as evidence then you have to take as evidence that brown rice is better than white rice for diabetes risk, that meat is harmful for whatever this group’s epidemiology says it is.
    Anyway, thanks for telling me what science is, in reality.
    I have often struggled with clinician’s understanding of science.

  26. Dr John Briffa 20 November 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Richard

    Please stop leaving out the wider context, including the evidence in animals that aspartame causes cancer at doses similar to those permitted in the human diet, as well as quite some other evidence pointing to aspartame as a potential toxin.

    Whether aspartame is fit for human consumption cannot be determined by the piece of epidemiological evidence I referred to above, and I’m wondering why you’re so stuck on it.

    You say you struggle with clinician’s understanding of science. Personally, I struggle with researchers and academics who become fixated on the detail of often very limited evidence (the tree). Of course focusing on minutiae out of context is one sure tactic we can use to be right. What a shame, though, it can blind us to the bigger picture (the wood). Something tells me your upcoming blog might end up being an example of just this problem.

  27. Chris 20 November 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Blimey! Was that exchange with gloves or bare knuckle?

    I wouldn’t take much convincing that those who get contracted to research the (blessed) stuff do so with regard for the source of their income streams. When they report the score the dots on the stave are likely to be in accord with the tune the piper plays. Well we know he pays the piper calls the tune. And, since the selection pressures at work here are not likely to be dissimilar to those selection pressures that bear pharma and the reporting of research we should think scores that are discordant (not in harmony with the pipers tune) get binned before they see the light of day.

    Personal thoughts IMHO ..
    .. .. Since evolutionary biologists are pinning down the requisites that define the essence of ‘life’, and they include in that list of requisites the presence of ‘proton gradients’ that are an indication of ‘radical chemistry’.
    And since the emergence of life in likely proximity to deep ocean vents took place in an electrolytic fluid (seawater) sitting on the negative terminal of a ruddy great battery (reference to the Earth, the ionosphere, and the global electric circuit) then I’d hazard there is ruddy great confounding factor the team overlooked. Unless they took account of freely available (or otherwise) free-electrons they have failed to take account of one of natures great antioxidants.

    But to end with something far more objective .. — is it just me or does aspartame taste so goddam awful?

  28. Richard David Feinman 20 November 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Well, probably my fault for Brrooklynesque style in the first post. My apologies for letting it get out of hand. I posted my analysis of the data and a reference to how that would be interpreted by statisticians. On the big picture, I posted a reference to cancer that suggests you would need some circumspection before saying that you knew anything at all about causes. Readers can make of those what they will. I encourage my daughter to avoid aspartame because she already has the habit of drinking water which I think is better. I don’t think there is any science behind that but my intuition tells me that it might encourage expectation of sweetness and, you never know, her father’s consumption of Diet Coke might contribute to his crabbiness in some way.

  29. Chris 21 November 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    There is not much wrong with the benefits reductionism can confer upon understanding .. .. whose appreciation cannot be improved with a dressing of holism.

    Rather a glass of this than diet coke any day. Both involve some measure of guilt, least they should, but one is immeasurably more pleasurable than the other.

  30. Richard David Feinman 22 November 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    I’ll drink to that.

  31. Chris 25 November 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    I went out of my way to toast your sentiments, Richard, with a bottle of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, and very nice too. But my memory attached superlatives that could well have roots in something else. So faced with a a corrupted data set I’ll just have to invest time and effort in more research. The superlatives I had in mind belonged to a dark brew, that much I do recall!

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