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Aspartame Linked to Leukemia & Lymphoma in Groundbreaking Study

Published February 22, 2013, filed under HEALTH

Each year, Americans consume about 5,250 tons of aspartame in total. 86 percent of this aspartame (4,500 tons) is from the consumption of diet sodas. Diet soda is the largest dietary source of aspartame  in the U.S. A study recently published at the beginning of December 2012 links the consumption of Aspartame to increased risk of Lymphoma and Leukemia. The study was conducted by the Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. The study was a follow up after a 22 year period of data collection including frequent dietary and health check ups of the study group.

We have covered the subject of aspartame on several occasions that included findings that deomstrate how aspartame damages the brain. This new study suggests that as little as a single 355ml can of diet soda daily greatly increases the risk for cancers in men and women. It can also increase the risk of multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in men. The results of this study forces us to really look at the effects of aspartame as there has never been a more comprehensive, long term study ever done on the topic. It is important to note that this can also reveal many more serious diseases and illnesses as data is observed even further.

The Most Comprehensive Study to Date on Aspartame

This study tracks over two million person-years giving it a huge pile of data to generate results from. Researchers prospectively analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study for a 22-year period. A total of 77,218 women and 47,810 men were included in the analysis, for a total of 2,278,396 person-years of data. It is not just the sample size of this study that makes it impressive, it is also the thoroughness with which aspartame intake was assessed in comparison to previous studies. Over the course of the study, every two years participants were given a detailed dietary questionnaire, and their diets were reassessed every four years. Shockingly, previous studies done on aspartame who revealed no link between aspartame and cancer in humans, only assessed participants’ aspartame intake at one point in time. This poses a major weakness in the accuracy of previous studies.

The combined results of this new study showed that just one 12-fl oz. can (355 ml) of diet soda daily leads to:

- 42 percent higher leukemia risk in men and women (pooled analysis)
- 102 percent higher multiple myeloma risk (in men only)
- 31 percent higher non-Hodgkin  lymphoma risk (in men only)

This is a powerful set of results as it leaves little to ponder about when it comes to the long time talked about risks of aspartame on our health. The results were based on multi-variable relative risk models, all in comparison to participants who drank no diet soda. It is important to note that it still remains unknown why only men drinking higher amounts of diet soda showed increased risk for multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but the continuation of this study may reveal these results later.

Most of the past studies showing no link between aspartame and cancer have been criticized for being too short in duration and too inaccurate in assessing long-term aspartame intake. This new study solves both of those issues. The study in fact shows a positive link to cancer and it should come as no surprise given that a previous best-in-class research study done on animals (900 rats over their entire natural lifetimes) showed strikingly similar results back in 2006. More worrying is the follow up mega-study, which started aspartame exposure of the rats at the fetal stage. Increased lymphoma and leukemia risks were confirmed, and this time the female rats also showed significantly increased breast (mammary) cancer rates. This raises a critical question: will future, high-quality studies uncover links to the other cancers or diseases in which aspartame has been implicated?

My Own Thoughts
I have been researching aspartame and other health related ilnesses for a few years now and have found a lot of different information as it relates to effects of various substances on health. This study stands out from many as it illustrates the importance of conducting research that is of quality and done over time. While we cannot confirm with 100% accuracy that this was the key factor in these ilnesses, we can confirm that it does play a big role. Also, when we look at what exists today as studies that are in favor of Aspartame being safe, we find that there are many weaknesses behind them that would produce poor results in accuracy.

Of course we can always go back to what feels natural and what would make sense when we look at our foods and I think this is something that we dont require  a scientific analysis to observe. Of course this is my opinion but, when we are adding chemicals that are synthetic and created in a lab to our food, it does not reflect naturally occurring elements that we are designed to consume. The human body was not designed to take in these types of substances through nature, which makes perfect sense as to why the majority of chemicals found in foods today have numerous links to serious health affects. This isn’t to say the body can’t handle all synthetics, but instead just shows that we should not be surprised to find out results like this.

If previous research on the subject was not enough, there is now undeniable evidence that suggests we should not be consuming aspartame at all in our diet. Switching over to sugar sweetened soda is also not a good alternative as this study also found that men consuming one or more sugar-sweetened sodas daily saw a 66 percent increase in non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It has become clear that having no soda at all in our diet is the ideal way to go. This would not only remove the aspartame and sugar risks, but it will also help in keeping your body in a more alkaline state.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16507461
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23097267
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17805418

30 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Lise R. Bonin, Ph. D. says:

    I just don’t give much credence to ‘studies’ such as this. It never says where it was published or
    anything about a mechanism for such effects. The author’s rationale is simply that we shouldn’t put anything synthetic in our bodies. Hope he doesn’t take any medications or vaccines or ever need any prosthetics. Fear mongering stories such as these are rather reminiscent of the dark ages and only serve to inhibit scientific understanding. If he wants to cut soda from his diet, that’s his prerogative. Without real data actually demonstrating his theory, his words fall flat.

  2. frank moore says:

    Are you crazy????? Of course aspartame causes cancer so do gmo’s… you are either a scientists and want job security or work for a company that makes these sweetners??? There are so many results out there proving that these cause cancer hell the reports that were submitted to the FDA showed problems… wake up! But of course you can keep drink sodas and keep using aspartame but don’t complain when your sick….ugh what an uneducated comment

  3. Jeff says:

    *you’re

    At least try to get some basic spelling corrections done before hammering out your ignorant response.

  4. S. Biggs MD PHD says:

    “Undeniable evidence” is a bit of an overstatement. Just read the authors conclusions:

    “Although our findings preserve the possibility of a detrimental effect of a constituent of diet soda, such as aspartame, on select cancers, the inconsistent sex effects and occurrence of an apparent cancer risk in individuals who consume regular soda do not permit the ruling out of chance as an explanation.”

    In studies like this it is often difficult to separate out correlation from causation.

  5. Bob says:

    However, it is significant that the previous studies touting safety were exposed as fraudulent.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Aspartame is bad for you, end of story! So why even put your self at risk? Just look at labels. My rule is that if I can’t prononce it, I don’t ingest it. If I don’t know what it is I don’t eat it!
    I try very hard to not take medications as I have seen countless families and friends become dependet upon them for things they could
    have fixed with diet, excersise, and a healthy mind. Yes, I do think it is important that people critque studies and list its faults, but if you really think aspartame is good for you or that we should not be concered about it, then you are defineltley under educated about food and health.

  7. Chad Tucker says:

    This is journalistic malpractice.

    Read the abstract of the article linked at the end of the story:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23097267
    “Although our findings preserve the possibility of a detrimental effect of a constituent of diet soda, such as aspartame, on select cancers, the inconsistent sex effects and occurrence of an apparent cancer risk in individuals who consume regular soda do not permit the ruling out of chance as an explanation.”

    Which is to say, that this study found _NO_ link between aspartame and cancer, and thus that this article is a bald-faced lie.

    (What likely occurred, is that the men in the study who drank sodas, diet and regular, also were more likely than non-soda-drinkers to engage in other behaviors, which the study did not control for, and which in women were not correlated with soda consumption, that increased their risks of developing certain cancers.)

  8. gma3 says:

    What I find annoying is when someone has to reply by commenting on a person’s grammar or spelling errors. Who really cares? The whole point of this conversation is about the fact aspartame is BAD for you. Get over the spell check.

  9. njsmyth says:

    No sources? The article has pub med sources from NIH at the bottom

  10. CS says:

    Absolute statements about such topics are nearly always misleading. It is certainly possible that aspartame consumption increases hematologic malignancy risk, but this is not a conclusion you can draw from these studies.

    Any study of this type is subject to error due to confounders, variables not taken into account that may explain both the exposure and reported increased risk of the observed outcome. An example in this case might be that living in an urban area results in increased exposure to soft drink advertising, easier access to soft drinks and therefore increased consumption. At the same time living in an urban area results in increased exposure to airborne pollutants that result in increased hematologic malignancy risk. In this hypothetical example, living in an urban area is the confounder that explains both the increased exposure and the increased outcome risk. I have no evidence that this is the case, but there are just too many possible confounders to draw strong conclusions from this type of study.

    Statistical methods can be used, and may have been in these studies, to try and control for known confounders. Unfortunately, unknown confounders often exist and controlling for known confounders requires robust data based on past studies which is inevitably not available for all possible confounders. The decision to attempt to control for certain confounders and not others adds a level of subjectivity to the statistical analysis that again reduces the level of confidence we can have in the data.

    Questions, such as the one at hand regarding aspartame, are surprisingly difficult to answer. A large number of very smart people spend most of their lives working to answer these questions and most remain unsatisfactorily answered. I believe it is the case that a more thorough understanding of modern scientific method and statistical analysis, inevitably results in a more circumspect and tempered response to studies such as these. I do not know the authors background, but he seems to have an insufficient understanding of this type of science or a personal bias that he has severely impaired his ability to provide an objective analysis of the data.

    As a matter of full disclosure, I drink about 2 soft drinks a week (some with aspartame) and therefore have, mainly unconsciously I suppose, concluded that the risk to my health is minimal and worth the pleasure derived from these drinks. My quick review of the referenced studies has not altered my informal risk/benefit calculation, but I do realize I would very likely receive a net benefit to my overall health if I were to abstain from soft drinks.

  11. Your saying something is NOT, by itself, meaningful, no matter how strongly you feel about it. Just saying, “Anonymous at February 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm.”

    Writing a comment such as this only indicates your own ignorance of science.

  12. JustMe says:

    Good article, but you harm your own credibility as a responsible journalist by writing an article all about aspartame, then pair it with a picture of Splenda….which contains no aspartame…Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

  13. Norm says:

    Somewhere, there’s an article stating that Aspartame is very detrimental to one’s health , and the only way it was passed, was because Donald Rumsfeld, major stockholder, rich and very influencial,.. had it pushed through the FDA as being safe. Other reports claim it causes cancer as well. You can’t go by one report,..but it should cause further research,..and all seem to claim the same,..causes cancer in rats. The other thing is,..all these big companies are in bed together,.. GMO Monsanto, FDA, WHO, Big Pharma,Codex Alimentarius, and are run by a handful of extremely rich families,…are in it for the money,..and control of the herd mentality population,..and push their lies through Medical schools, through the Media,..and do not, repeat do not care about mankind.

  14. Velvet Green says:

    Hey Dr. Bonin (is that like “bone in head”?). I’m sure you missed the end of the first paragraph because your own bias ‘overlooked’ the part about:

    “The study was conducted by the Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department
    of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
    and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. The study was a follow up
    after a 22 year period of data collection including frequent dietary and health check
    ups of the study group.”

    I also imagine that you didn’t finish the story because you ‘shut down’ and didn’t follow the source links:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16507461
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23097267
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17805418

    Now to challenge you directly. For tens of thousands of years, humans and animals alike have eaten food directly from the earth. Disease (and the like) have always existed, providing no guarantees of a longer life expectancy…but their rates/ratios of infection were far lower. On the flip side, humans had never had direct exposure to synthetic chemicals and/or consumed them, particularly til the last century. There is very little exhaustive data to support any long term effects. Meanwhile we’re supposed to ignore the cancer epidemics; and such markers as the rate of abnormal disorders (physical, psychological, developmental & etc) presenting in our children AND animals. Sorry, I don’t have a research paper to reference my position, but the body of evidence is pretty indicative.

    It never ceases to amaze me when I read comments from trolls like “Jeff”. Grammar and spelling have little to do with facts and knowledge.

  15. jaden says:

    Lise R. Bonin, Ph. D. – maybe you should do a little research on medication and vaccines – their toxicity has its side effects as well, and no studies have really proved their effectiveness. also, as already mentioned, there are sources right there at the bottom of the article.

    (anyone else find it funny the MD’s and PhD’s are the ones who have a problem accepting this information? – its called scientific indoctrination. science is just as dogmatic as religion)

    S. Biggs MD PHD – that was part of her “my own thoughts” section, don’t use that as a way to attack the research that was done. there may not be undeniable evidence that these specific things are directly related, but there is overwhelming undeniable evidence that it does nothing good for the body, and at the very least makes you more acidic, which will make you more vulnerable to any illness, especially cancer. research shows cancer cannot live in an alkaline environment. also, as bob already said past studies have been proven fraudulent. so many over the years. i just watched a documentary yesterday where farmers were saying they used to be told roundup was safe enough to drink. follow the money

    just me – splenda is still an artificial sweetener with known (or at the very least suspected) toxic effects, it makes perfect sense to mention it.

    Norm – yes there are several articles about that out there. i agree, don’t rely on that one article, but you start doing your research and you find some pretty scary stuff out there – that is proven, that is documented, that is hidden or kept quiet

    also, we’re talking about cumulative effects. i think cs said some great things already, but i would add that this is a first generational study. sure, maybe the longest and largest so far, but like the study with the rats, we will truly see the consequences of all our toxic buildup (not just from aspartame) in younger and younger people. think about it – if you spend 50-60 years ingesting known toxins, being vaccinated with known toxins, eating toxins, drinking known neurotoxins like fluoride (also not proven to have significant benefit versus its potential risk), absorbing toxins in the air through our skin and breathing (not just pollution, but look into chemtrails – nasty stuff (and the patents are documented)…you really think that not gonna result in some health problems? especially when physicians have no understanding of nutrition, or antioxidants? i mean come on, talk about ignorance. we can argue about which synthetic chemical is contributing to what symptom all day long, but until we wake up to the big picture, we’re gonna keep having the same results.

  16. Sabrina Longobardi says:

    If you click the link, the actual experimental studies are on Pub med. You can read them for yourself and then decide.

  17. Desiree says:

    Maybe you just want to live in denial so that you can keep drinking your Diet Coke? And immunizations (filled with mercury and other additives are proving to be the cause of more than half the cases of SIDS in the US and Autism, and etc….) But keep telling yourself how its OK to consume chemicals and plastics, and heavy metals, etc… It makes sense that its healthy or not harmful to do so right? Because it tastes good and the government says its ok, right?

  18. I'm with stupid says:

    Actually, poor grammar and spelling indicate careless thinking and disrespect for your readers.

    As to the “facts and knowledge,” the conclusion from the second link tells us “Although our findings preserve the possibility of a detrimental effect of a constituent of diet soda, such as aspartame, on select cancers, the inconsistent sex effects and occurrence of an apparent cancer risk in individuals who consume regular soda do not permit the ruling out of chance as an explanation.”

  19. Blake says:

    Hilarious, the article links two rat studies and a human one that says in the article that it proves nothing. And this guy writes an article about undeniable proof in a human study. Bias much?

  20. Linda says:

    Well, you can all form your own opinions but I started using Equal as soon as it came out, and then when the patent ran out, generic Aspartame, in my coffee and tea, both of which I consumed many cups daily. And even though I’m female, I have Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs, so I have to wonder about this….

  21. This is what we call anecdotal evidence and, hence, is of no value.

  22. Lisa Lee says:

    I guess you missed the three pubmed links at the bottom of the article. I don’t give much credence to comments from people who are so eager to pass judgement that they can’t be bothered to read the whole article. Not to mention from those who so insecure and arrogant that they have put “Ph.D.” on their name for a simple article comment!

  23. Lost in Wyoming says:

    Last year they found Cancer in my Kidneys. I’ve had one surgery and have one to go. A few months ago I noticed lumps on the back of my neck. The Dr’s so far haven’t been able to find the cause. They removed one of the lumps (Lymph Node) last Friday. Five years ago the Dr’s told me I was borderline diabetic and to quit sugar. So, I started using fake sugar in my coffee. Anyone know if anybody has started a class action lawsuit against any of the fake sugar companies yet? Because I’m going to if anyone wants to join me.

  24. Elisha says:

    Maybe you should try clicking on the sources list before you comment about the author not saying where is was published. Doesn’t make you look too bright.

  25. Janet W says:

    I have a meningioma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. To be on the safe side, I do not ingest aspartame.

  26. Bob says:

    I’m 84. I’ve been bragging for years about all the aspartame I’ve consumed without having any harmful effects from it. I drink a gallon of tea every day and sweeten it with aspartame.
    Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

  27. Bob says:

    sorry typo in my age. I’m 64, not 84.

  28. patty says:

    Way back in time, a humans life expectancy was about 45 years. Today, because of medical advances, humans can live past 80, almost twice as long. People die from cancer and other health related things, not because they’re drinking diet soda, but because they MUST die. This is life. Therefore, science is always looking for a reason for why death comes to us. We are mortal beings and because of this our lives will end. (Unless, of course, you are a believer in Jesus Christ. Then your life will never end.)

  29. Raif says:

    Only 1 source?
    yeah…uh no.

  30. When I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time
    a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact same comment.
    There has to be a means you can remove me from that service?
    Appreciate it!

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