Italian researchers published a new study last week that showed aspartame -- widely used in soft drinks -- might cause leukemia, lymphoma and breast cancer in rats, but the FDA said there was no immediate need to take action.
"This is the second study by the same lab showing that aspartame causes cancer in rats," Center for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michael Jacobson said in a telephone interview.
"On the basis of the present findings, we believe that a review of the current regulations governing the use of aspartame cannot be delayed," researchers wrote in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, which is published by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
"This review is particularly urgent with regard to aspartame-containing beverages, heavily consumed by children."
FDA spokesman Michael Herndon said the agency had not yet reviewed the study.
"However, the conclusions from this second European Ramazzini Foundation are not consistent with those from the large number of studies on aspartame that have been evaluated by FDA, including five previously conducted negative chronic carcinogenicity studies," Herndon said in an e-mail.
"Therefore, at this time, FDA finds no reason to alter its previous conclusion that aspartame is safe as a general purpose sweetener in food."
Jacobson said people should avoid the product for now.
"People shouldn't panic, but they should stop buying beverages and foods containing aspartame," he advised.
Bonnie - we are not surprised by the FDA's response. They are in hot water with this.The previous studies the FDA refers to were all done by the manufacturer of aspartame and severely flawed. This is the first legitimate study executed on rats or humans. For further info, click on last week's blog entry on the issue.
As of 6/28/07, the FDA altered its response slightly: "FDA is interested in reviewing the recently published study; however, to date FDA has not been provided the data from this new study. Until FDA conducts an evaluation of the study, it cannot comment on the findings."