Monday, February 13, 2006

Paradigmatically Inconvenient Carcinogen

[This post formatting is driving the Dodger(s) nuts.]

The Dodger(s) had assumed the conventional non-carcinogenicity of aspartame because it's a dipeptide of two standard amino acids. It's not that these are nutrients, because vitamins like the chemoprevention studies can increase cancer. It's that these amino acids are substantial parts of diet already, and lots of them around. They are macro nutrients.

However, now we have to rethink. Corn oil causes pancreatic cancer in rats. Shifts in the fat content of diet can alter tumor frequencies. But the Times summary suggests the dosing levels were relatively low compared to shifting sources of caloric intake.

The Ramazzini protocol involves lifetime exposure rather than terminating dosing and the animals at two years.

Although it probably violates copyright, the Dodger(s) couldn't resist the rat in the picture.

Lowdown on Sweet?

Published: February 12, 2006

WHEN Dr. Morando Soffritti, a cancer researcher in Bologna, Italy, saw the results of his team's seven-year study on aspartame, he knew he was about to be injected into a bitter controversy over this sweetener, one of the most contentiously debated substances ever added to foods and beverages.

A study conducted at an Italian cancer research center, above, has rekindled the debate on aspartame.

Aspartame is sold under the brand names Nutra-Sweet and Equal and is found in such popular products as Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Diet Snapple and Sugar Free Kool-Aid. Hundreds of millions of people consume it worldwide. And Dr. Soffritti's study concluded that aspartame may cause the dreaded "c" word: cancer.

The research found that the sweetener was associated with unusually high rates of lymphomas, leukemias and other cancers in rats that had been given doses of it starting at what would be equivalent to four to five 20-ounce bottles of diet soda a day for a 150-pound person. The study, which involved 1,900 laboratory rats and cost $1 million, was conducted at the European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences, a nonprofit organization that studies cancer-causing substances; Dr. Soffritti is its scientific director.

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