- 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 brain tumours.
- 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
- 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
- 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."