AARP Food Questionnaire Pitted Against Italian Cancer Institute Aspartame Study

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Media blitz by the artificial sweetener industry denies aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) link to cancer. Researcher, Unhee Lin of the National Cancer Institute says: AARP questionnaire was an "unscientific survey."

The media blitz is on to discredit Dr. Morando Soffritti and the Ramazzini Cancer institute’s 7-year study showing aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) causes cancer, especially lymphoma and leukemia.

The AARP questionnaire/study hailed as proof that aspartame does not cause cancer was not an ‘aspartame’ study.

This writer/researcher was a participant (until a sample of saliva was requested) in the study which, although called ‘new’ was completed in 2000. The ‘lifestyle’ survey was interested in how much the participant exercised and the dietary portion seemed mainly concerned about how much fat (as in milk or bacon) one consumed. I do not remember any questions about artificial sweeteners in the 16-page questionnaire or the follow-up survey, some years later. Since I am a reluctant expert on the subject of the chemical sweetener, aspartame, I think I would have noted questions pertaining to chemical sweeteners.

The AARP questionnaire has not been made available to the public, yet the National Cancer Institute is presenting statistics from the questionnaire claiming the safety of aspartame.

Accepting that the distinguished researchers of the NCI would not fabricate questions asked half-a-million people…

Denial that aspartame causes cancer was circulated to the public in a press release written by the Calorie Control Council, an industry based group whose sixty members include Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Wrigley and Hershey’s sugar-free products. The CCC cites a ‘new’ food-frequency questionnaire study by AARP involving 340,045 men and 226,945 women, ages 50-69*

The campaign to discredit Dr. Soffritti is similar to one directed against neuroscientist Dr. John Olney, of Washington University, in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Olney’s research, released in 1996, showed significant brain tumor increases since the approval of aspartame. When Olney and his colleagues fed aspartame to immature mice, they found it destroyed the nerve cells in the brain.

Marilyn Marchione of the Associated Press writes the AARP study “takes the fizz out of arguments that the diet soda sweetener aspartame might raise the risk of cancer.” Marchione reports no increased risk was found even in those “who gulped down many artificially sweetened drinks a day.” In actual fact, the information released from the study states only…”there was no cancer link to those who consumed 400 milligrams of aspartame, about 2 cans of soda daily.”

There is no federal requirement to list the amount of aspartame contained in any food, drink or medicine on the label; therefore the NCI in whose name the study was conducted has no way to tell how much aspartame was consumed.

NutraSweet was approved in 1981 under suspicious circumstances. Donald Rumsfeld, fresh from the Ford White house went through the revolving door from government to industry to become CEO of the pharmaceutical company, G. D. Searle, owners of the aspartame patent.

In his incisive 1987 UPI investigation, Gregory Gordon reported Rumsfeld told an aide he would “call in all his (political) markers to get aspartame approved.” This, despite the overwhelming evidence aspartame caused brain and breast cancers in Searle’s experimental testing.

An FDA investigation of Searle’s cover-up of the cancers caused by aspartame was conducted by Dr. Jerome Bressler of the FDA.

Michael Jacobson, of the CSPI, (Center for Science in the Public Interest) admits about the AARP study…”the new study’s means of measuring aspartame consumption—food-frequency questionnaires, is imprecise.”

Dr. Morando Soffritti told Melanie Warner of the New York Times, "The NCI’s researchers collected no data on people’s prior consumption of aspartame or whether they recently began consuming them. The duration of exposure to aspartame is inadequate in the study.”

Ninety-two symptoms caused by aspartame were disclosed, under the Freedom of Information Act, by the FDA. The list includes headache, dizziness, change in mood quality, vomiting and nausea, seizures, change in heart rate, unconsciousness or coma, swollen lymph nodes, memory loss and No. 77, Death.

The CCC press release addresses only the cancer scare with no information released about any other symptoms the participants may have developed from aspartame use, including other forms of cancer.

The study reports that many people in the investigation did develop cancer. “Over the next five years, 2,106 developed blood-related cancers such as lymphoma or leukemia, and 376 developed brain tumors.” These cancers are the exact cancers Dr. Soffritti found in his long, careful study.

Aspartame is in an estimated 6,000 products, including prescription drugs, chewing gum, low-fat yogurt, and diet soft drinks—usually anything labeled “sugar-free.” How many of these products are sitting in a consumer’s kitchen shelves? If the AARP survey did not list other products than diet soda or Equal, then this in itself, creates inaccurate findings.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock explains phenylalanine, 50% of the aspartame molecule, crosses the blood brain barrier “miswiring the brain, causing chronic unrelieved stress.”

The phenylalanine in aspartame converts to DKP, diketopiperazine, a tumor agent. When Searle laboratory did a 2-year test of DKP, 12 rats developed brain tumors and 73 out of 140 female rats had gross mammary tumors.

Methanol (wood alcohol) comprises 10% of aspartame. Methanol is poisonous and addictive. According to Dr. Woodrow Monte (“Aspartame: Methanol and the Public Health”), the methanol is ‘free’ without the antidote, ethanol, found in natural food such as orange juice.

In 1998, C. Trocho and his team proved the methanol in aspartame converts to formaldehyde, accumulating in the liver and fatty tissue.

NCI researcher Unhee Lin thinks the AARP questionnaire was an “unscientific survey…the study design was subject to so-called recall bias, as participants were asked to remember what they drank and how much they drank… If their recollections weren’t accurate, it compromised the findings.”

Carol Guilford is an LA based writer and the author of “The New Cook’s Cookbook”, “THE Diet Book”, “Carol Guilford’s Main Course Cookbook” and “The Easiest Cookbook.”

Shoshanna Allison contributed to this article.

For more information:


Sweetness Disguised as Disease or Death?

Also Known As Equal®, NutraSweet® and Spoonful®

By Columnist - David Lawrence Dewey © 1998

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Carol Guilford

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