Aspartame study called weak - - Jackson, MS

Aspartame study called weak

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When a well-respected hospital like Brigham and Women's in Boston has something to say... The medical world listens.

But new research from the hospital linking an artificial sweetener to cancer raised questions from the beginning.

Now even the hospital is backing down.

Its safety well documented, a new study linking the artificial sweetener aspartame to cancer created a buzz.

The lead study author from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston explained her findings in an interview with NBC's Robert Bazell. "We found an increased risk of non Hodgkin lymphomas and multiple myeloma," said Dr. Eva Schernhammer.

But her study -- published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition -- fell flat with outside experts.

Dr. Steven Nissen with the Cleveland Clinic said, "The study itself is not done well, the findings are not reliable."

Aspartame is found in diet sodas and thousands of other products.

The genesis for the new study was an earlier one in rats fed aspartame. That study linked the rats' artificially sweetened diet to leukemia.

The current study combined data from two large observational studies of humans. Although a release to the media called out aspartame in diet sodas -- the association was also found with regular soda.

Brigham and Women's Hospital released a statement calling the study "weak" after a further review.  "We are in the position of promoting public health and so we put out bad science, we're actually harming the public's understanding of what they need to know and that's not a responsible thing to do," Dr. Nissen said.

Aspartame has been in diet sodas since the 80's and was approved as a general purpose sweetener in 1996.

The FDA says its approval was based on more than 100 studies.

A statement from the FDA reads, "although this study raises issues that need to be further investigated, the FDA finds no reason to alter its previous conclusion about the safety of aspartame."

The American Beverage Association also weighed in on the study -- pointing out that aspartame has been proven as a safe alternative to sugar.

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