By Maxine Frith,
The Daily Post (UK)
From Tim Matthews <email@example.com>
August 5, 1999
British scientists are to study
possible links between an artificial sweetener used in some of the most
popular drinks and brain cancer, it was announced yesterday. The three-year
study by researchers from King's College, London, will investigate whether
the sweetener aspartame could be linked to an increased risk of primary
Aspartame, marketed under the
name NutraSweet, is 200 times sweeter than normal sugar and is used in
many popular diet drinks. NutraSweet welcomed the study saying there was
"overwhelming scientific evidence" to prove the product was safe.
The study will look at whether
people with certain genetic make-ups are susceptible to methanol, a compound
in aspartame that some research has suggested can attack DNA and cause
cells to mutate and cause cancer.
Neurochemist Dr. Peter Nunn, who
is heading the study said; "Primary brain tumours are of interest to everybody
because the cause of them is now known. Some studies have shown a link
between aspartame and primary brain tumours and some studies have shown
no link. This study does not set out to rubbish aspartame,. It is a serious
study into whether people with certain genes are more susceptible to these
compounds than others."
The study is being funded by a
£147,000 grant. It will not involve experiments on humans or animals
but will look to whether cells of certain tumours react to chemicals. A
statement from NutraSweet AG said; "There is already an overwhelming amount
of scientific evidence that confirms the safety of aspartame, but scare-mongerers
have continued to claim it is linked to brain tumours. We have no doubt
whatsoever that provided the study is well-designed and well-conducted,
it will show that there is no such link.
Aspartame was invented in 1965,
but has only taken hold in Britain in the last decade."
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