`Tumour link' to sweetener study

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The Independent Online
LEGAL NOTE: Please do not publish articles about the alleged dangers of aspartame without contacting the legal department and the aspartame information website

Charles Arthur Technology Editor

A NEW study by British scientists aims to investigate a suggested link between Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, and a rise in brain cancers.

The three-year study in London follows other studies by Spanish scientists over the effects of Aspartame, widely used as a low-calorie sweetener in chewing gum, cakes, and fizzy drinks.

Dr Peter Nunn, a neurochemist at King's College London, who will be a co-leader on the study which starts next month, was critical yesterday of NutraSweet, the company which owns the rights to Aspartame. He said that the company had done more research than was ever made available to scientists and the public: "That makes it difficult for the rest of us to assess their statements about its effects."

NutraSweet has repeatedly said that Aspartame poses no risk to human health. A spokeswoman said yesterday: "Its safety has been documented in more than 200 objective scientific studies which have been reviewed by authorities around the world."

Studies in which rats were fed huge amounts and developed four times the expected number of brain tumours have been dismissed because of the extraordinary intake involved.

The new experiment will use cells with various mutations in test tubes, on which various derivatives of Aspartame will be tested for carcinogenic effects. No animals or humans will be used.

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